Obama will announce a series of executive orders to boost uptake of green energy later today

Obama to announce support for solar industry

President Barack Obama will today announce a series of executive orders to boost the solar industry and increase the energy efficiency of federal buildings.

The president will make the announcement during a visit to Wal-Mart in California where he will also highlight commitments by corporations, including Wal-Mart, Apple, Yahoo, Google and Ikea, to increase solar generation at their facilities.

Several financial institutions, including Citigroup and Goldman Sachs Group, were announcing new plans for "large scale investment and innovative programs" to develop solar and renewable energy installations, the White House said.

Obama's executive actions would support efforts at community colleges so that 50,000 workers would join the solar industry by 2020, it said, and another initiative would press for $2bn (£1.2bn) in energy efficiency upgrades for federal buildings over the next three years, building on another $2bn commitment from 2011. Actions to strengthen building codes were also part of the mix.

"Investing in solar and efficiency makes sense to reduce our carbon emissions, but also for our pocketbooks and for our economy," said Dan Utech, an energy adviser to Obama, during a conference call on Monday to preview Obama's announcement.

He said the US solar energy industry had expanded dramatically under Obama's watch, with installations increasing to an amount enough to power more than 2 million homes.

"So momentum is increasing," Utech said. "Since President Obama took office we've increased production from US solar electricity more than tenfold, and in the last year, US production of electricity from solar energy was double what it was just two years ago."

An Obama spokesman also announced the completion of a project to install solar panels at the White House itself. The panels were American-made and part of an energy "retrofit" for the building that would improve its energy efficiency.

"The project, which helps demonstrate that historic buildings can incorporate solar energy and energy efficiency upgrades, is estimated to pay for itself in energy savings over the next eight years," spokesman Matt Lehrich said.

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