The United States has hundreds of military installations on domestic soil alone and is considered responsible for the most energy consumption from a single source in the nation. As the American electrical grid shifts toward renewable energy, it’s expected that the Armed Forces would do the same — and a good number already have solar and storage on base. Keeping the lights on is especially important to the military, and solar has proven to be a viable means to do so.
Ameresco installed an 18.6-MWdc solar system at U.S. Army Garrison Fort Detrick in Frederick, Maryland. Founded in 1931 as an airfield, Fort Detrick personnel today provide support for national departments of agriculture, homeland security, health and human services, defense and veterans affairs. The base conducted research into biological warfare during WWII. The 59,994-panel solar system was installed on 67 acres of land on Fort Detrick. It is capable of islanding as a microgrid and accounts for 12% of the base’s energy needs. Fort Detrick set a net-zero energy goal for 2020.
A 5-MW solar system at Fort Campbell in Kentucky installed in 2017 accounts for 10% of the base’s energy needs. Completed over two phases, the array was a result of grant funding and a utility service contract. Fort Campbell is an Army base that produced the branch’s Air Assault Division and is located on the border of Kentucky and Tennessee.
Duke Energy installed solar panels on the rooftops of 284 homes at the Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina. The 5,865 solar panels that were installed were estimated to cut 40% of electricity use at Shaw Military Housing. It’s also the first military housing solar project in the state. Shaw Air Force Base was founded in 1927.
Ameresco installed a 5.5-MW solar system and a 4-MW/8-MWh battery storage system at the United States Marine Corps Recruit Depot at Parris Island (MCRD PI), South Carolina, as part of an energy efficiency overhaul at the base. The solar system is composed of carports that cover 500 parking spaces for base staff and visitors and ground mounts, which together accounts for 75% of MCRD PI’s energy needs. MCRD PI is the only training facility of its kind on the eastern seaboard, with an annual class of about 20,000 Marines. Everything in the energy infrastructure update was designed to endure extreme weather events and earthquakes.
Regional utility El Paso Electric developed a 56,000-panel solar array across 42 acres of land in Otero County, New Mexico to provide power to Holloman Air Force Base. Holloman was founded in 1942, and its pilots have seen action in every major American conflict since World War II. Today, the base trains jet pilots and drone operators. Construction on the system began in 2017 and was completed in October 2018.
SunPower Corp. installed a 10-MW solar array with a 1-MW energy storage system at Redstone Arsenal Army post in Huntsville, Alabama in February 2018. This solar-plus-storage system was realized by the U.S. Army Office of Energy Initiatives, Redstone Arsenal, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Sunpower. Redstone was founded during WWII and made Huntsville a technological hub through its exploits in the 1960s Space race and missile development. Like most other military solar-plus-storage systems, Redstone’s was installed for extra energy resiliency.
Silicon Ranch installed a 53-MWac solar system across 348 acres on property adjacent to Naval Support Activity Mid-South in Millington, Tennessee. The solar array is powering the Navy’s Human Resources Center of Excellence, a post-graduate program for members of the Naval academy. Mid-South employs 7,500 personnel, both military and civilian.