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US Military Embraces Microgrids for Security, Self-Reliance

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MicrogridsThe US Department of Defense (DoD) consumes more petroleum than any other organization in the world, and the DoD’s military operations create the biggest demand for all forms of energy. To add a layer of complication, military bases in the US and abroad currently use aging transmission systems that are prone to cyber-terrorism and are affected by extreme weather conditions.

In order to combat some of these issues, the US military is looking to establish a network of microgrids. Used at US military bases, these microgrids will integrate electric vehicles, distributed renewable generation, and demand response.

Should the microgrid paradigm be used, the Pike Research report estimates there could be a 54.8 megawatts total capacity within all global installations by 2018. This number is based upon an average growth scenario.

Moving toward distributed generation and self-reliance would make in-theater forward operating bases, stationary bases, and mobile tactile operations more secure and less expensive. Clearly, microgrids are the way for the DoD to go. Microgrids integrate small-scale solar and wind power and reduce fuel consumption by networking generators as an integrated system in order to be more efficient, thus allowing military bases to keep operating if transmission lines are cut or other power issues develop.

To date, some bases have existing vintage microgrids that are built upon fossil fuel consumption, but the DoD’s new focus incorporates renewable distributed energy generation, otherwise known as RDEG. The main benefit of the RDEGs is that they create incredible energy security through a never ending supply of wind and solar electricity. Over 40 US military bases with RDEG are currently in operation, planned, under study, or in demonstration. The DoD hopes to integrate microgrids into upwards of 600 forward operating bases and tactical units.

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