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Air Force Plans Three Large Solar Array Projects

Air Force engineers are planning to outdo the 14.2-megawatt solar array spanning 140 acres at Nellis Air Force Base (AFB) in Nev., which has held the title of the largest renewable-energy project in the Air Force, with plans to build three new solar arrays by 2013 that are as big as or bigger than the Nellis project. In addition to Nellis AFB, Davis Monthan AFB and Luke AFB, both in Arizona, are planning expansive solar arrays.

Davis-Monthan AFB plans to purchase electricity from a 14.5-megawatt photovoltaic solar array to be built and operated by SunEdison on 130 acres of base property. The array is expected to deliver 35 percent of the energy needed to operate base facilities. The solar project initially was reported in June as being as big as 20 megawatts.

Luke AFB has teamed up with Arizona Public Service Company to build a 15-megawatt solar array on 100 acres of base property, which was originally estimated at 17-megawatts. The project could produce enough energy to satisfy 50 percent of the base’s energy needs and save up to $10 million on utility bills over 25 years.

In addition, Air Combat Command and Nellis AFB leaders have plans to construct a 17-megawatt phase-two project in 2012 to add to the 14.2-megawatt array built in 2007.

Earlier in October, the U.S. military announced plans to use renewable sources for 50 percent of its power by 2020, with the Marines leading the charge in the battlefield, reports Popular Science.

The 150 Marines of Company I, Third Battalion, Fifth Marines are the first to bring renewable energy tech including solar panels, solar chargers and solar tents to a battle zone, reports Popular Science. The military hopes this will serve as a model for the future.

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.

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