|08-10-2012, 02:08 PM||#1 (permalink)|
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U.S. Military's Big Plan For Renewable Energy Projects
The U.S. Department of Defense plans to open up 16 million acres of its land for renewable energy development, which it hopes will create a boom of solar, wind and geothermal projects and provide clean power to military bases, the department announced Monday.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar signed a memorandum of understanding to work together on promoting renewable energy generation projects on public land that has historically been restricted for military uses. About 13 million of those 16 million acres are located in western U.S., where a lot of solar, wind and geothermal power development already has been taking place on private and other types of public land.
The administration has been making a strong push for renewable energy development by funding both technology research and power generation projects since the President Obama took office in 2009. The administration wants to accomplish two key goals by supporting renewable energy: creating jobs and finding alternative, cleaner and more abundant power sources domestically.
Last month, Salazar unveiled a roadmap for speeding up solar power project development on 285,000 acres of public land in six western states.
The government support for renewable energy has indeed propelled the development of advanced materials and equipment and the construction of some of the largest solar power plants in the country. It also has attracted vocal critics, notably Republicans, who have used the bankruptcy of government-funded solar panel maker Solyndra last fall to accuse the administration of political favoritism and mismanaging public money.
The Monday announcement by the Defense and Interior departments involved not only land set aside for the military but also offshore locations near military installations. The goal is to promote onshore and offshore energy projects, such as erecting wind turbines in the sea.
The MOU calls for the military and the the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management to run a pilot project to oversee solar power plant development at military bases in Arizona and California.
The military has been vocal about its support of renewable energy, from electricity to transportation fuels, that it says will help it become more self-sufficient and reduce its vulnerabilities in the battle fields.
The vast majority of the military bases rely on power from nearby utilities, and they depend on backup generators during blackouts, said Dorothy Robyn, deputy under secretary of defense for installations and environment, during a conference call on Monday. The military is keenly interested in creating “microgrids” for its bases. A microgrid is a mostly self-sufficient base of power generation and storage, which allows for banking the electricity (using batteries or other technologies) for later use. A microgrid can still be connected to the regular electric grid, but it will take power from local utilities only when its own power plants aren’t able to generate enough to meet the demand.
“Renewable energy will allow a military base to maintain critical operations for weeks or months if an electric power grid goes down,” she said.
The military wants to attract developers and private investments for building solar, wind and other renewable electricity power projects on its land. It plans to lease the land to developers and buy some or all of the power from each project for its own use, and any unused power will be sold local utilities, Robyn said. Each of the military services plans on getting 1 gigawatt of renewable energy installed near its bases by 2025.
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Joe Gisondi 4 days ago
Did they contract for the panels go to solondra? Oh…They are out of business. Maybe China can fill the orders. Humm……………………and since these solar panels will probably be sitting on thousands of acres of Gas and Oil supplies, maybe they will ignite from the heat of the panels and blow the whole thing to Mars. That would be some fireworks. Or maybe, because they are using solar, and will of course save money from not burning dreaded fossil fuel, they can use the savings to cut our taxes…………………………………………………………………not.
EnergySage 4 days ago
Regardless of your stance towards large-scale renewable energy, home energy systems – such as solar panels – can be a great investment both financially and environmentally. Solar power systems will pay for themselves in well under 10 years, even in locations that don’t receive an abundance of sunlight, and the electricity they produce emits no greenhouse gases. This Massachusetts homeowner, for example, is saving $1,200/year with solar, and earning $2,000 in revenue by selling renewable energy certificates http://www.energysage.com/projects/s...tem-sudbury-ma
NortheasternEE 3 days ago
The intermittent and variable power output from these projects has a negative effect on the local civilian grid that provides electrical service. The military is taking advantage of the state’s renewable energy mandate. The savings to the military come as a result of what is known as cost shifting. Solar panels increase the overall cost of electricity, and the extra cost is shifted to other local users of the power grid.
It would be cheaper to increase the military budget and exclude them from taking advantage of the state mandate.
1click2change.org 3 days ago
Given that most military bases have substantial electrical loads that can be offset by alternative energy – and an abundance of empty rooftops (or adjacent open space) that is already fenced / protected from the outside – this seems to be a logical and intelligent use of resources. Furthermore, it sets a great example for other government agencies and the general public to encourage the continued expansion of renewables.
Jessica Carlson 2 days ago
I have a huge research paper due tomorrow and this article really provided me with the last bit of information I needed! Thanks!
Barrie Harrop 2 days ago
Very timely move by US Military with our http://remotenergy.com/HOME.html depending on wind speed we can save up to 50% in diesel fuel costs.
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NortheasternEE 2 days ago
I do not understand your comment. In high winds you should be saving 100% and in light to no wind you save 0%. On average wind turbines generate about one third of maximum power. So the most you can save is 33%. Since you are obliged to continue operating the diesel for backup, the 33% theoretical average must be further reduced by heat losses due to idling and low power output inefficiency.
Please explain what “up to 50% diesel fuel cost” means. Is it an instantaneous maximum value at high wind speed?
The real value of the wind turbine is the fuel you save operating without the wind turbine vs. with the wind turbine. I suspect that value is relatively small.
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Ucilia Wang Contributor
I'm a freelance journalist covering renewable energy and other green tech topics. I'm good at explaining how stuff works, and why and how government policies play a big role in promoting renewable energy, electric cars, energy efficiency gadgets and smart grid. I also write for GigaOm, Technology Review, Renewable Energy World and PV Magazine. Follow me on Twitter @UciliaWang.
The author is a Forbes contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer.
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