U.S. Department of Defense Goes Big On Wind, Solar, and Biomass

by Tina Casey

We’ve been following a massive $7 billion renewable energy buy that the Department of Defense kicked off a while back, and the program is really picking up steam.

In the latest round of developments, yesterday the US Army Corps of Engineers paired up with the Army Energy Initiatives Task Force (EITF) to announce contracts with 20 more companies.

Renewable Energy. Solar installation at Fort Carson courtesy of USACE.
Renewable Energy. Solar installation at Fort Carson courtesy of USACE. The brigade and battalion headquarters building, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, features an on-site solar array, which supplies approximately 62 percent of the building’s electrical power needs.

If that Army task force rings a bell, we just noted yesterday that EITF swung a deal for Fort Drum in New York to get up to 100 percent renewable energy 24/7 from the company ReEnergy, which refitted a coal fired plant at the facility to burn local biomass.

20 New Military Renewable Energy Contracts

The Army Corps of Engineers contracts are awarded under a streamlined process typically used for architecture and engineering projects called Multiple Award Task Order Contract. The winning companies are eligible to bid on upcoming projects, which is why we can’t tell you what the specific projects are. However, we do have a list of the awardees.

The $7 billion renewable energy program covers solar, wind, biomass, and geothermal, but geothermal was left out of this round. That still left plenty of renewable energy goodies to go around.

Solar was the big winner, with 15 contracts spread among Ameresco Inc. (also known for wastewater-to-biogas), Chevron Energy Solutions Company (more on that later), Constellation NewEnergy, Distributed Sun LLC, EDF Renewable Energy, Energy Ventures LLC, First Solar Development, FLS Energy, ABM Government Services LLC, RE Independence CO LLC, SunEdison Government Solutions, SunEdison LLC, SunWize Technologies Inc., TransGen Energy Inc., and the aptly named Victory Renewables LLC.

Another three projects went to wind power. Despite some initial concerns over radar interference, the Defense Department has been dipping a toe into the wind market (here and here for example) where possible.

Ameresco nailed one of the three wind contracts and the other two went  M. Arthur Gensler, Jr. & Associates, Inc. and Infigen Energy US Development LLC.

That leaves two contracts for biomass, one of which was scored by Ameresco (there they go again) and the other by Wheelabrator Technologies, Inc.

All together, the $7 billion initiative now covers 79 contracts. It’s also worth noting here that the entire program is financed by third parties under power purchase agreements, so no taxpayers were injured in the making of all this renewable energy.

That financing structure also insulates the program from the conservative Republican budget axe, enabling the US renewable energy market to keep growing despite repeated attempts to cut it off at the knees (the fight over the wind power tax credit being just one notable example).

What Is Chevron Doing In The Solar Market?

Yes, that Chevron. Better known for its fossil fuel activity, the company purchased PG&E’s retail unit back in 2000 to form Chevron Energy Solutions, later bringing in Viron Energy Services.

It has been humming along ever since, mainly in solar with some fuel cell, smart grid, geothermal and wastewater/kitchen grease-to-energy thrown in.

For the record, aside from a series of major renewable energy projects with governments and schools, Chevron is also using solar energy to power its oil operations.

What John Kerry Said

Speaking of fossil fuel extraction, the Defense Department’s aggressive pursuit of renewable energy began a few years ago, so it predates US Secretary of State and well known climate hawk John Kerry. Kerry has more than picked up the ball, most recently with a barn burner of a climate change speech in Indonesia to kick off this week. Here’s one nugget:

When I think about the array of global climate – of global threats – think about this: terrorism, epidemics, poverty, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction – all challenges that know no borders – the reality is that climate change ranks right up there with every single one of them.

Even without the climate change angle, that list resonates right here in the US, as the impacts of fossil fuel extraction continue to wreak havoc on local communities. On top of ongoing issues with mountaintop coal mining and oil/gas fracking, the last week alone has brought yet another coal spill to West Virginia, gas pipe explosions in Pennsylvania and Kentucky, and a second leaking pipe under a coal ash dump in North Carolina.

In the context of military renewable energy, our troops are working to prevent the growth of local threats right here at home, so it would be nice if they got a little more support from certain federal representatives who seem more intent on letting things go to pot than helping to protect public health and safety.

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This article, Department of Defense Goes Big On Wind, Solar, And Biomass, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Renewable Energy. Tina CaseyTina Casey specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. You can also follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.

US Military at 2.1 Gigawatts of Renewable Energy now, on track for 3GW

by Tina Casey.

If you want to check out the amazing transition of the US armed services from fossil fuel dependency to renewable, locally sourced energy, you can find it all wrapped up in a neat little package called Power Surge, a new report from The Pew Charitable Trusts and partner Navigant. The raw numbers are impressive, with more than 2,000 new energy conservation and renewable energy projects currently installed at military facilities.

What’s even more impressive is the rapid pace of the military renewable energy transition, despite a concerted effort by certain members of Congress to hobble renewable energy development in the US.

Solar project at Fort Hunter Liggett (cropped) courtesy of USACE HQ.
Solar project at Fort Hunter Liggett (cropped) courtesy of USACE HQ.
Military Renewable Energy Surging Up

According to Pew’s Power Surge, the number of energy conservation projects at US military installations more than doubled recently, from 630 in 2010 to 1,339 in 2012 (fiscal years, btw). In that period renewable energy projects went up from 454 to 700.

Power Surge also estimates that there were 384 megawatts of installed renewable energy capacity at Department of Defense facilities by mid-2013. That number is set to shoot up to 2.1 gigawatts within five years, by 2018.

All this activity puts the Department of Defense on track to meet its goal of installing three gigawatts of renewable energy at its facilities by 2025.

More Fight – Less Fuel

Okay, so it’s all nice that the Department of Defense wants more renewable energy, but saving the planet is not the driving force behind the push for fossil fuel independency.

DoD has been quite vocal about the urgency of transitioning the US off petroleum (as we’ve covered here and here for example) and adopting more lean, flexible energy sources for combat (here and here for example).

Perhaps lesser known is the imperative to improve the security of domestic and overseas military facilities by enabling them to source renewable energy on site or hyper-locally, and unplug from the grid, which here in the US is still heavily dependent on coal and natural gas.

Here is how Pew sums it up in Power Surge:

… To meet essential power requirements, defense leaders have initiated far-reaching steps to harness advanced technologies capable of conserving energy, enabling on-site production from renewable sources, and saving taxpayers millions of dollars.

That effort began in earnest in 2008, when the department convened a prestigious task force, formed by the Defense Science Board, to explore the key energy challenges facing the military in the 21st century. The panel’s report, “More Fight–Less Fuel,” called on the U.S. military to address two major challenges: the significant and growing demand for fuel in combat operations, and the vulnerability associated with almost complete reliance by military installations on the nation’s aging and vulnerable commercial power grid.

Check out that last phrase in particular because it nails down something that’s been bothering us for a while.

Along with the aforementioned obstruction of renewable energy development by certain members of Congress (here and here for example), you also have many of those same legislators pushing for privatization and refusing to fund important infrastructure projects.

So there you have the perfect storm: for all the billions spent on national defense, it all hangs on the fragile platform of an “aging and vulnerable” private energy infrastructure.

Ironically, it’s that same privatization/ant-infrastructure push that has forced DoD to push back with an agile end-run around Republican (there, we said it) attempts to block renewable energy development.

Let’s also note for the record that DoD has a huge hand in funding renewable energy/energy conservation R&D projects that apply to the civilian sector as well as national defense, with the Energy Department’s newly announced $50 million push for next-generation vehicles just the tip of the iceberg.

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The U.S. Department of Defense defines installation energy security as the ability to assure access to reliable sources of energy and deliver that power to meet operational needs on its bases in the United States and abroad. The U.S. military needs safe, secure, reliable, and affordable energy to operate facilities on an uninterrupted basis. To meet essential power requirements, defense leaders have initiated far-reaching steps to harness advanced technologies capable of conserving energy, enabling on-site production from renewable sources, and saving taxpayers millions of dollars.

Related Assets:

Download report PDF

That effort began in earnest in 2008, when the department convened a prestigious task force, formed by the Defense Science Board, to explore the key energy challenges facing the military in the 21st century. The panel’s report, “More Fight–Less Fuel,” called on the U.S. military to address two major challenges: the significant and growing demand for fuel in combat operations, and the vulnerability associated with almost complete reliance by military installations on the nation’s aging and vulnerable commercial power grid.1

See more at: http://www.pewenvironment.org/news-room/reports/power-surge-energy-security-and-the-department-of-defense-85899532987#sthash.ybam9ccF.dpuf

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This article, 2.1 Gigawatts Of Renewable Energy For US Military, On Track For 3, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

 

Tina CaseyTina Casey specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. You can also follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.

U.S. Army Goes All Chevy Volt With New Hybrid EV

by Tina Casey

Army looks to replace Humvee with hybrid EV (courtesy of US Army)

The US Army is working on a more fuel efficient, lightweight and protective multi-purpose vehicle to replace its notoriously outdated Humvee, and we’re shocked — shocked! — to learn that the new prototype features an all-electric drive. The new vehicle, called ULV (Ultra-Light Vehicle) primarily uses diesel fuel to power its electric motors but it can also go a few miles exclusively on its battery pack. Wow, Rush Limbaugh is going to have a field day with this one given his long record of slamming of electric vehicles, particularly GM’s Chevy Volt gas-electric hybrid.

Like the ULV, The Volt can run exclusively off its battery pack as well as its gasoline tank. So, let’s see what Rush has to say about the Army’s newfound friendship with electric drive vehicles.

[Cricket Chirps]

Although Rush is still ranking on electric vehicles at every opportunity, as far as we know he has had nothing to say about the ULV (yet), so let’s fill a little space for him.

In a broadcast last year, transcribed on his website under the headline “Electric Vehicles and the Wussification of America,” Rush had this to say about EVs:

It turns out the internal combustion engine means more to freedom, liberty, economic advancement than any electric car ever will! The electric car is the product of cowards.

Wow, way to support our troops, Rush. The Department of Defense is up to its elbows in cutting edge EV projects, and the ULV is just one example. EV-to-grid systems are another, including a new $20 million EV-to-grid demonstration project involving 500 fleet vehicles.

Another example is Los Angeles Air Force Base, which has set a goal of transitioning 100 percent of its non-tactical fleet to EVs (LA AFB is also an early solar power adopter, btw). The Navy has also established a pilot project for EV readiness at its facilities that includes solar powered EV charging stations as well as new EV charging stations at on-base convenience stores.

Fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) are also coming into the picture. Just take a look at the new fuel cell collaboration announced by GM and Honda, factor in GM’s partnership with the US Army on an FCEV fleet in Hawaii, and you can see the potential for widespread adoption of FCEV technology by the Department of Defense.

To sum up, the Department of Defense has been vigorously pushing for the US military to transition out of fossil fuel dependency as a matter of national security and troop safety, and EVs are already a major factor in that transition.

The Ultra-Light Vehicle And EV Technology

The Defense Department has been introducing portable solar power into combat zones, so it’s not that much of a stretch to project into the foreseeable future, when other cutting edge energy technology, including plug-in EVs and FCEVs, find their way into active zones as well as stationary bases.

Two factors are driving the Department of Defense inexorably toward renewable energy and EVs. One is the increasing load of electronic gear borne by both ground troops and vehicles, creating new demands for more flexible, efficient, lightweight, portable and scavenge-able forms of fuel as well as more effective energy storage systems.

Another factor is the piecemeal, localized nature of combat in arenas such as Afghanistan and Iraq, where remote bases and rough terrain demand the use of more up-to-date energy supply logistics than the creaking, hazardous, centuries-old fuel convoy (to say nothing of the air drop, but that’s a whole ‘nother can of worms).

With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at the ULV prototype. The project comes under TARDEC, the Army’s Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center, in partnership with the military armor solutions company Hardwire (also known as the maker of bulletproof whiteboards, but whatever).

In a curious bit of timing, TARDEC announced the completion of three new ULV prototypes last week, while in the middle of redesigning the website for the project, so aside from TARDEC’s press release there’s not much available online as of this writing. However, you can still find a great rundown of the ULV in TARDEC’s Accelerate publication (see page 28 at the TARDEC zmags link), and there is also a cache of the old material here.

Billed as the “world’s toughest hybrid,” the ULV is designed to provide improved protection for occupants as well as fuel efficiency, which TARDEC describes as “mission critical.”

The electric drive factors into the protection goal by eliminating a lot of extra hardware, especially underneath the vehicle, which enable blast mitigation technologies to deploy with minimal interference.

As for the drive itself, there are two electric drive motors, one in front and one behind, each of which can independently power the vehicle. Each motor is coupled directly to a differential, driving planetary geared hubs. Here’ s the goodies from the cache:

The planetary geared hubs keep weight to a minimum by reducing the half-shaft torque requirement, keeping each traction motor centrally located between each wheel set, and providing high drive efficiency. The engine/generator “gen-set” mounted in the front provides the continuous power, while the battery mounted in the rear provides power surge and energy storage capability. The combination offers power redundancy, as only one energy source is required for motion, and the battery is capable of moving the vehicle on electric power alone (capable of 10+ mile range on battery alone).

The next step will be to shake the three prototypes down. One is going to undergo rigorous testing at TARDEC’s brand new Ground Systems Power and Energy Laboratory, which was designed with a focus on electric vehicles, alternative energy and energy storage technologies.

Stay tuned.

You too, Rush.

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This article, US Army Goes All Chevy Volt With New Hybrid EV, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Tina Casey specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. You can also follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.

 

U.S. Army Adds Wind Power To $7 Billion Renewable Energy Buy

by Tina Casey – Special to JBS News

Army adds wind power to $7 billion renewable energy buy.
Wind turbine at Fort Huachuca courtesy of US Army MWR.

The US Army Corps of Engineers has just announced that it has awarded contracts to 17 private companies to build wind turbines on Department of Defense facilities around the country. It’s the third in a series of four groups of renewable energy contracts for DoD that will eventually total $7 billion. Given the military’s avid pursuit of a more diversified fuel mix, it looks like certain members of Congress better get off the “drill, baby, drill” train once and for all, if they really do support our troops.

The first two groups of contracts were geothermal and solar, and the last will be biomass. We’re especially interested in the military’s sudden interest in wind power, though, because not too long ago there were concerns about wind turbines interfering with radar systems. So, what changed?

Seventeen Wind Power Contracts For The US Military

The $7 billion DoD renewable energy initiative is basically the same kind of power purchase agreement (PPA) that is commonplace in today’s solar power market. We taxpayers pay no money up front for the renewable energy facilities, which are constructed by private sector companies. We simply provide the real estate in the form of DOD properties, and agree to purchase power from the facilities. As with other PPA’s the idea is to save money by getting renewable energy at a lower price than the grid mix.

For the military, the additional benefit is smoothing out fossil fuel price spikes that can wreak havoc with budgets for training and other essential operations.

The seventeen contracts in the wind power round went to Acciona Energy North America Corporation, Cobra Industrial Services, Inc., Dominion Energy, Inc., Duke Energy, EDF Renewable Energy, Emerald Infrastructure, Enel Green Power North America, EverPower Wind Holdings, First Wind, Iberdrola Renewables, LTC Federal, NorthlandPower, Siemens Government Technologies, Stronghold Engineering, Turn Key Power Consortium, VERT Investment Group, and West Texas Power Company.

Among the familiar names in this group with a global reach, Siemens is well known for its wind turbine technology and it is also included in the geothermal group, and Italy-based Enel has had a strong presence in the US wind and solar markets as well as a long history in geothermal energy.

US Military Makes Peace With Wind Power

As for the military’s wary relationship with wind power, that began to change in the past several years with a growing body of knowledge on the interaction of wind farms with radar. The US company Aveillant, for example, has come up with a new 3-D holographic form of radar that can “declutter” readings from turbine blades and distinguish them from aircraft.

In 2010, the Army went online with its first wind power project, at the Tooele Army Depot in Utah, and the Coast Guard followed suit with a wind turbine at its Southwest Harbor Base in Maine. In 2012, Cape Cod Air Force Station in Massachusetts announced that its 6th Space Warning Squadron on Cape Cod would get a new pair of wind turbines, which will save the facility an estimated $1 million annually in energy costs.

Also worth mentioning is the involvement of military veterans in lobbying for the wind power industry, both for its role in in a stronger national defense and for its role as a valuable employment platform for veterans.

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This article, Army Adds Wind Power To $7 Billion Renewable Energy Buy, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Tina Casey specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. You can also follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.

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