The Navy is making headway in meeting its alternative energy goals over the next decade as the service partners with technology companies to harness ocean thermal energy to generate electricity for its naval bases, reports National Defense magazine. A key reason: naval bases consume about 25 percent of the Navy’s annual energy resources.
Meanwhile, other military services like the Army Corps of Engineers are ramping up their solar system installations.
Renewable energy projects at naval and army installations are a big part of an effort by the entire Defense Department agencies to meet its internal goal of generating 25 percent of all energy from renewable sources by 2025. Last year, the U.S. military launched several “green” initiatives including solar and wind projects that officials estimate could save millions, reduce their environmental footprint and save lives in war zones where fuel convoys are frequent targets.
Rear Adm. Philip Cullom, director of the Navy’s fleet readiness division told National Defense that naval installations are making a transition to grids powered by renewable energy sources, and expects to generate half of the service’s shore-based installation energy requirements from alternative sources within the next decade. These sources include solar, wind, ocean and geothermal energy, which could also supply power to the U.S. grid.
As an example, China Lake Naval Station, Calif., features a geothermal plant that produces 270 megawatts of power.
Thermal energy from the ocean is gaining interest because seawater is readily available 24×7, and the environmental impact on oceans is minimal. Experts tell the publication the technology could potentially produce three to five terawatts of power, which is about 30 percent of today’s total global energy consumption.
The Navy recently awarded an $8.1 million contract to Lockheed Martin to continue development of a 10-megawatt ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) pilot plant, targeted for the Naval Station Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, which could be in place as early as 2013.
If successful, the pilot plant could scale up to 100-megawatt plants, aimed at other bases in the Pacific. Plants could be built as soon as 2020.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are also adding to their renewable energy portfolio. The Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District park and dam operation offices in California are installing solar energy systems at nine locations. These include offices at New Hogan Lake Englebright Lake, Stanislaus River Parks, Lake Isabella Dam, Black Butte Lake, Eastman Lake, Pine Flat Lake, Hensley Lake and Lake Kaweah.
The systems are expected to provide 41 percent of each office’s electricity needs on average. The projects are funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA),
In addition to reducing energy consumption, the solar panels, for example, at New Hogan Lake, which will be completed by June, will also cut greenhouse gas emissions by more than 28,000 pounds annually, and district wide, reduce carbon emissions by 156,000 pounds annually.