The (Solar) Light at the End of the Tunnel
The New York Times reports, By FELICITY BARRINGER:
A consultant for the Defense Department reports that introducing solar installations on nine military bases in the Mojave and Colorado Desert could generate 7,000 megawatts of power.
Depending on which yardstick you prefer, that amounts to the output of seven average nuclear plants or six large coal-fired plants. It would also amount to 25 percent of the renewable energy that California will require its utilities to produce by 2015, according to the 13 authors of the report, prepared by the consultancy ICF International.
The report says that electricity generated annually from such solar installations would be equivalent to two-thirds of what the Department of Defense consumes nationwide each year.
Perhaps as much to the point, the report also notes that the military could earn as much as $100 million annually from such solar installations, from rental payments to discounts on power. “Private developers can tap the solar potential with no capital investment required from the D.O.D.,” it adds.
What is more, full development of this solar capability would mean avoiding emissions of millions of tons of greenhouse gases and other pollutants, the report said.
One of the bases mentioned in the report, Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, already boasts the largest photovoltaic array in the nation, a five-year-old 14-megawatt project.
But beyond that, the consultants found, another 30,873 acres of military land is suitable for similar solar arrays on land belonging to California bases, like Fort Irwin, an Army base that has already hosted an experiment in “cool roofs” for new base housing; Edwards Air Force Base (whose history was excerpted in Tom Wolfe’s “The Right Stuff”); the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms; and the Naval Air Facility in El Centro, where Prince Harry trained last year. Read the Rest at NYT
The Air Force uses more energy than any other agency in the federal government, and it’s not likely to give up the top spot any time soon. It flies some 900 flights every day around the globe, not counting its wartime missions, and it’s responsible for running installations all over the world.
Nonetheless, the service has made big strides in cutting its energy consumption. Since 2006, the Air Force cut its consumption of jet fuel by 2 percent during a period when it was tasked with carrying more not less cargo. On its bases, it’s reduced the amount of electricity it consumes by 15 percent, compared with 2003 figures.
While some of the energy savings are the result of up-front investments in energy-saving technologies, many are simply the result of rethinking the way the Air Force manages its operations, said Kevin Geiss, the Air Force’s deputy assistant secretary for energy.