Cleantech Market Intelligence
U.S. Military Sticks to its Guns with Large Renewable Installations
The U.S. military is taking an all-hands-on-deck approach to deploying cleantech for military applications (including facilities, vehicles, and soldier power). The application with the most firepower is medium-to-large-scale installations – up to 12 megawatts (MW) – at U.S. bases – with biomass, solar PV, wind, and geothermal expected to be the primary sources of renewable energy.
Large-scale solar PV projects currently in operation on Department of Defense (DOD) property include Nellis AFB (14 MW) and Fort Carson Army Base (2 MW). A year-long ICF International study commissioned by the DOD found potential for 7 GW of solar to be installed at seven sites in desert bases in California and Colorado alone. Pike Research only expects a fraction of this to actually be developed, but it nonetheless underscores the size of the opportunity and the financial feasibility of deploying solar PV. The following table illustrates some of the most economically viable military sites for solar development.
(Source: ICF International)
The Army’s Energy Initiatives Task Force (EITF), which is directing the implementation strategy for the Army, has screened 180 Army and National Guard sites and has identified potential for 20 renewable energy installations totaling 683 MW. Of that total, 183 MW have moved from the EITF planning pipeline to the execution portfolio. Of the 183 MW in the execution portfolio, biomass currently represents roughly 75 MW, solar represents 55 MW, and other (unnamed) technologies represent 53 MW. The following map provided by EITF shows the large-scale renewable energy installation opportunities either under consideration or undergoing review.
Despite the massive potential for 100+ MW deployments, the U.S. military appears to (wisely) be sticking to installation sizes that it has experience with. A $7 billion request for proposal (RFP) released by the Army in August 2012 called for renewable energy projects across several sites to generate 2.5 million megawatt-hours of power over the next 30 years – all via projects up to 12 MW (the military will not own the power plants, but instead pay a fixed rate over the lifetime of the contract). Twelve MW is large enough to make an impact on the overall renewable energy use at the base, but small enough to avoid the large amount of red tape, environmental and wildlife concerns, water use, and transmission issues associated with much larger renewable energy deployments.