Solar manufacturing giant SunPower plans to begin building a 10-MW microgrid-ready solar power plant at a U.S. Army post in Alabama this month.
The Silicon Valley-based company will supply the solar energy to the Redstone Arsenal U.S. Army post under a 27-year power purchase agreement (PPA).
The deal marks another in a growing number of ‘microgrid-ready’ projects being announced. Such projects are designed to be easily connected into a microgrid in the future.
Renewable microgrids are increasingly being pursued by the U.S. military to couple their clean energy goals with their need for energy security.
The Army has set a goal to secure 25 percent of its needed energy from renewables by 2025, and install 1 GW of renewables on Army installations.
The military also is striving to become more energy self-sufficient to ensure its facilities have electric supply in case of a cyberattack, storm or other disaster. To that end, it is increasingly installing microgrids at its bases and employing mobile microgrids in the field.
Solar, alone, does not ensure reliable supply. For safety reasons, grid-connected solar stops supplying power when an outage occurs on the central grid. Solar microgrids, however, continue to operate and serve their customers by islanding from the grid during an outage and then supplying power from their onsite solar panels.
The microgrid-ready solar project was developed by Redstone Arsenal’s Directorate of Public Works, the U.S. Army Office of Energy Initiatives and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – Huntsville Center’s Energy Division. It was designed by SunPower; the company will be responsible for the project’s construction, operations and maintenance.
This deal marks the first PPA project solicited through a renewable and alternative energy Multiple Award Task Order Contract (MATOC) and awarded by Huntsville Center.
The Redstone Arsenal project will use a SunPower Oasis Power Plant system – a fully-integrated, modular solar power block engineered for rapid deployment – at the site. It is expected to generate up to 18,000 MWh/year.
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