The White House will soon don a series of solar panels on its roof as part of an energy retrofit that will improve the efficiency of the first family’s residence.

But it is not the first time the White House has had a solar system in place. Panels were installed during President Jimmy Carter’s tenure in 1979, but were removed during roof repairs in the mid-1980s and never replaced.

President Barack Obama promised to install solar panels on his official residence in 2010 as a sign of his commitment to renewable energy systems.

The Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA) welcomed the move saying “we applaud President Obama for, once again, leading by example”, in a statement.

“Today, solar is generating enough electricity to power more than 1.3 million American homes, and we’re extraordinarily proud to be adding the White House to this constantly-growing list,” it added. ““Installing solar panels on the First Family’s official residence, arguably the most famous building in America, underscores the growing popularity of solar energy nationwide.

According to the SEIA, there is more than 8,500 megawatts of cumulative solar electric capacity installed in the US. And in the first quarter of this year, almost half of all new generating capacity added to the grid was solar.

Part of Obama’s climate change plan includes a commitment for the federal government and the US Army, Navy and Air Force to rely on 20% or more of renewable energy by 2020.