Jimmy Carter Solar Panels

Dale and Bill remove panels from the cafeteria roof

You should have heard lots about the Jimmy Carter Solar Panels by now.  Of course, one of these panels featured prominently in our recent Solar Road Trip, and another was donated in August to Huang Ming of the Himin Solar Group in China.  One of the better tellings of the Carter Panels’ history came from Scientific American in August.  Read the Scientific American article here

The panels are a tremendous resource for the College.  They’ve been incorporated into our academic program, attracted significant media attention, been integral to some development and partnership efforts, and have served as a strong symbol to our campus and local communities.  

For about twelve years, sixteen of the Carter Panels produced hot water for our campus cafeteria.  Today, the maintenance crew is carefully moving those sixteen panels into storage.  The roof rack holding the panels has not worn well over the last two decades, and we’re prudent to take them down before the mounting deteriorates further.     

Recently, a group of campus folks met about how best to handle the 41 Carter Panels in our possession.  Some will continue to be used in our education program (see work done by the Energy and Energy Efficiency Lab at Mick’s blog), and others will be restored for historic and educational value.  Still we hope that some number of them will be dedicated to use on campus buildings.  We’re in preliminary discussions about just where and on what timeline, but we’re excited about possibilities for using them again down the road.  And we’re eager to involve students in their restoration; we’ve even heard from some of the original White House installers that they’d love to be involved.


6 thoughts on “Jimmy Carter Solar Panels

  1. Is it possible for Unity College to sell/trade some of these old panels for new solar hot water panels or even solar PV, especially since we have relationship with the worlds largest panel producer (correct me if I’m wrong about that fact). Even investing in them or fundraising as a campus wide sustainability effort would be a good idea. I know I’m not the only one on campus thinking this…

    1. We’re not going to sell these outright. Certainly we’ll consider how loaning or donating panels might be beneficial to the school and our programs. We’ve been in touch with several guys who worked on the original White House installation, and a gentleman who restored the panels before they were installed on our roof in the early 90s. They’re all interested in helping out with these panels if we decide to reinstall them in other campus applications.

      Cody, why don’t you come to one of the next meetings we have re. these panels. They’re not regular, but I’ll let you know when it comes up. Would love to have your input for the group.

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