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GE to Showcase Smart Grid at U.S. Military Base

microgridAimed at increasing energy security, energy efficiency and cleaner alternative energy at U.S. military bases, GE has been awarded $2 million in Federal stimulus funding from the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) for a smart microgrid demonstration project at the world’s largest Marine Corps Base, Twentynine Palms Base, in California. The project is also designed to serve as a model for other bases and to demonstrate how similar types of facilities, such as industrial complexes and universities, can take advantage of a smarter grid.

This is not the only major energy-saving project implemented by the U.S. military over the past several months. Most recently, the testing ground for some of their latest green initiatives including the use of alternative energy such as solar and wind was Ft. Irwin in San Bernardino Country, which houses the Army’s training center for troops deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan.

The U.S. Navy has worked to reduce its overall consumption level by 12 percent in 2008 with projects centered around wind energy generation, solar photovoltaic systems, geothermal systems, and ocean thermal energy conversion.

The microgrid project takes aim at two major concerns at defense facilities — high electricity consumption and the need to operating seamlessly through a power outage or other infrastructure disturbance. According to the 2009 Defense Appropriations Act, U.S. military installations consumed 3.8 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity last year, enough electricity to power 350,000 households in the United States.

Under the contract, GE will design and demonstrate a smart-energy management system that enables installations to more optimally manage on-site power generation and energy storage, while interacting with the regional electrical grid in a more intelligent and efficient way. The GE system will also enable the integration of renewable resources, such as solar energy, to help meet their electricity needs and reduce their carbon footprints.

As part of the project, GE will also provide an enhanced suite of microgrid control system technologies that will enable a military base to more effectively manage its local energy resources as well as the interaction with the larger electrical grid network to safeguard their power systems and to reduce their overall energy costs.

GE Global Research, GE Digital Energy and GE Fanuc are all working together to develop the new system.

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