military microgrids
Air Force expeditionary energy demo forges ahead Part of the Air Force Research Laboratory’s forward operating base of the future demonstration is one complete expeditionary microgrid system, pictured here during Basic Expeditionary Airmen Skills Training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, February 25, 2016. Monocrystalline silicon solar panels are placed on top of each tent for energy production. A trailer, at center, holds the hardware, software and lithium ion batteries that form the smart grid and provide energy backup should the grid fail. The project evaluates energy reduction technologies such as shelter insulation and efficient heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. Air Force photo by Donna Lindner

Microgrids allow the government to improve physical and cyber energy security, report findsA new report from Navigant Research examines the market for military microgrids deployed by the US Department of Defense (DOD).

The DOD is the single largest consumer of petroleum in the world, and in order to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and improve both physical and cyber energy security, is exploring the use of microgrids. At the same time, the DOD can also use microgrids to reduce the $4 billion it spends on energy across its 523 installations and 280,000 buildings.

“The DOD has played a remarkably consistent role in commercialising new technologies that provide tremendous social benefits within the larger civilian realm of society, including microgrids,” says  Navigant Research principal research analyst, Peter Asmus.

“Perhaps the biggest impact the DOD could have on future microgrid growth globally is in the developing world.”

According to the report, remote power systems may be able to offer a new model of grid infrastructure that is particularly relevant as Puerto Rico and other Caribbean islands rebuild in the wake of recent hurricanes.

The Trump administration’s emphasis on increasing DOD budgets, as well as simmering tensions with North Korea, could also provide fresh rationales for larger investments in military microgrids, both within the US itself and internationally.

The report analyses the market for military microgrids deployed by the US DOD in three key segments: stationary bases, forward operating bases (FOBs), and tactical mobile systems.

Military microgrids expansion

In mid-October it was announced that the 10-MW military microgrid in the California city of Twentynine Palms would undergo a $7.8 million expansion as part of long-term plan to achieve energy independence.

military microgrid

“This project is a great milestone for NAVFAC [Naval Facilities Engineering Command] and the Marine Corps that will provide MCAGCC [Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center] Twentynine Palms with the technologically advanced infrastructure it deserves, that will support their mission for many years to come,” said William Moreno, NAVFAC Southwest project manager.

Under this project, the microgrid will be expanded throughout the base. Additionally, the microgrid will be able to continue operations without any disruption or downtime if the base loses local grid power. This through the full integration and automation of two combined heat and power (CHP) plants and all renewable energy systems.

The scope of the project will encompass work on conductors, circuit breakers, substations transformers, SCADA systems, fiber communication lines, relays, high voltage breakers, associated software programming and ancillary built-in equipment.