Ameresco’s Parris Island Military Microgrid Goes Live

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Another military microgrid is now live, this one a 10-MW Ameresco project at the US Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD) Parris Island, South Carolina.

The $91 million project, which features energy efficiency and renewables, is designed to withstand storms and earthquakes.

The US military was an early leader in microgrid development and continues to pursue energy independence and resiliency for its bases. The Army, for example, is striving to make its facilities capable of operating off grid for 14 days.

military microgrid

The military microgrid on Parris Island. Photo courtesy of Ameresco

The Marine Corps trains about 20,000 recruits annually on Parris Island. If a power outage occurs on the central grid, the microgrid will keep power flowing on the 8000-acre base so that training can continue.

“Resiliency at MCRD Parris Island means providing uninterruptible power in support of critical training operations,” said Nicole Bulgarino, executive vice president at Ameresco. “Distributed generation systems like the comprehensive solution we have just built there deliver a layered defense against threats to the power supply.”

Renewable microgrids also offer a route to curb military use of petroleum. The US Department of Defense is the single largest consumer of petroleum in the world. Navigant Research estimates that the military could save $8-$20 billion over the next 20 years by shifting from a reliance on backup diesel generators to large-scale microgrids.

On Parris Island, the military is expected to save $6.9 million in annual utility and operational costs as a result of the energy makeover, which includes:

  • Replacement of a power plant with 3.5 MW of combined heat and power and three diesel backup generators
  • 20,000 solar modules, installed at carport and ground-mount sites, which provide 5.5 MW. The solar panels provide shelter for more than 500 parking spaces.
  • Batteries totalling 4 MW/8 MWh
  • Intelligent microgrid controls to assure power supply in the event of central grid outages

Ameresco is among a growing number of large energy companies that take a comprehensive approach to microgrid projects, not only installing controllers, generation and energy storage, but also maximizing energy and water efficiency at a facility. The Parris Island project reduces utility energy demand by 75%, and water consumption by 25%.

The military paid no upfront capital costs, a common financial arrangement for microgrid projects now. This was achieved via an energy savings performance contract with Ameresco.

Under the contract, Ameresco will operate and maintain the military microgrid and its energy assets for 22 years.

Read about more military microgrids.

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Elisa Wood About Elisa Wood

Elisa Wood is the chief editor of MicrogridKnowledge.com. She has been writing about energy for more than two decades for top industry publications. Her work also has been picked up by CNN, the New York Times, Reuters, the Wall Street Journal Online and the Washington Post.

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