Another Military Microgrid on its Way as Ameresco Breaks Ground at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard

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Ameresco has begun work on another military energy project that includes a microgrid, this one, a $173 million endeavor at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY) in Portsmouth, Virginia.

The Massachusetts-based energy efficiency and renewable energy company said Friday that it has broken ground on the project, which includes a 19-MW combined heat and power (CHP) plant, a 3-MW battery energy storage system and a microgrid control system.

The US Navy commissioned Ameresco to undertake the project by way of an energy savings performance contract, which spares the military from making a capital investment. The energy upgrades are paid for out of cost savings achieved by making the facility more energy efficient. The energy improvements are expected to generate $411 million in guaranteed cost savings over the term of the 22-year performance period.


Ameresco breaks ground on clean energy project at Norfolk Naval Shipyard. Photo courtesy of Ameresco

The upgrades and microgrid control system will create long-term energy security for the site — an important priority for the military. It’s expected to reduce the electricity imports from the grid by 68%, giving the base substantial energy self-sufficiency.

As part of the project, Ameresco will refurbish existing backup power at the base and integrate it into the microgrid. The company also will upgrade the electric distribution system to provide redundant sources of electricity.

In addition to beginning the energy improvements, Ameresco has also started building an industrial wastewater treatment plant. The system will treat contaminated wastewater created during ship repair. Tasked by the Navy with assessing potential industrial process improvements, Ameresco developed a solution that produces enough savings — from recycling water within the plant, enclosing exposed system components and reducing operating costs — to pay for the complete replacement of the site’s existing 40-year-old wastewater treatment plant.

“This project, which features both a new industrial water treatment plant and the integration of a new CHP plant and battery storage within a microgrid control system, will deliver long-term efficiency, reliability and resiliency in support of the NNSY mission,” said Nicole Bulgarino, executive vice president and general manager of federal solutions at Ameresco. “We value our long-term partnership with the US Navy and take seriously our responsibility to help advance their mission and support the environment through the deployment of clean energy technology.”

Ameresco expects to complete the project in 2022 and will operate the microgrid, CHP plant and wastewater treatment facility until January 2044, as specified in the performance contract.

The Norfolk project is just one of several military microgrid projects that have been undertaken by Ameresco.

Last year, the US Navy awarded Ameresco a task order for a $58 million energy resilience project, which includes a microgrid, at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Maine. The company has also developed a 10-MW microgrid, designed to withstand storms and earthquakes, at the US Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island in South Carolina. The Defense Logistics Agency Energy contracted with Ameresco in 2018 for $133.5 million in energy improvements, including a 20-MW microgrid at Joint Base San Antonio in Texas. Recently, Ameresco was commissioned to build an unusual floating solar microgrid at Fort Bragg Army Base in North Carolina.

Read more about military microgrids on Microgrid Knowledge.

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About Elisa Wood

Elisa Wood is the chief editor of She has been writing about energy for more than three 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.