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Air Force Aims for Solar Power Storage Innovation

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Solar Car PortThe Air Force Research Laboratory’s (AFRL) Advanced Power Technology Office (ATO) is considering using a Hawaiian computer center in order to demonstrate an advanced system for collecting, storing, and using solar power in an attempt to show that solar power can contribute to a seamless energy management system for a high-demand facility.

The ATO is focusing on the Advanced Energy Storage and Management System (AESM) and plans to install it at the Air Force’s Maui High Performance Computer Center, managed by the University of Hawaii. The ATO focused on Hawaii since it is the most vulnerable to fossil fuel dependency and the site of multiple Department of Defense (DOD) facilities like Pearl Harbor.

The AESM will have roof-mounted solar panels that extend over part of the faculty parking lot, essentially forming a solar carport. This solar carport will be able to reduce wear on vehicles by protecting them from the sun while reducing the amount of fuel used to cool the interior.

Once the project gets underway, the demonstration period will last two years.

The AESM project also feeds into another solar project, the Maui Solar Initiative, which consists of a proposed 1.5-megawatt, 13-acre solar farm. The Air Force expects these projects to reduce operating expenses greatly. According to estimates, the Air Force currently foots the center’s yearly electricity bill of more than $3 million.

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