A new study conducted by ICF International, a consulting firm on behalf of the Department of Defense, shows that the DOD could put 7 gigawatts of solar on its military bases in just California and Nevada. That’s 30 times more energy than they need and enough power to meet 25 percent of California’s renewable energy needs by 2015.
“The Services will use these results to support their plans for renewable energy development,” said DOD spokesperson Lt. Col. Melinda Morgan.
The push for more renewable energy among the branches of the military has grown in the past few years. The DOD increasingly sees renewable energy as a way to help control and predict its energy costs.
For instance, the study also looked at creating microgrids on the bases, that would allow them to operate independently of the grid should disaster strike.
This study isn’t about just plastering the entire installation with solar either, ICF ruled out 96 percent of the bases’ surface area on the nine desert bases in the study.
“The study assessed the expected maximum amount of solar that could be developed without conflict with other issues—military training, threatened and endangered species etc.—on these installations,” Morgan said. “The assessment includes work underway or planned on the California bases that were evaluated.”
Of the surface area ICF concluded that 25,000 acres were suitable for solar and 100,000 acres were potentially suitable for solar. Of the 100,000 acres that were questionable, it was assumed that a quarter of that land could be used for solar.
The study also determined that the DOD could add in the solar without spending any money upfront.
“DoD can enter into agreements for solar development that exceeds the amount of power required for use on an installation,” Morgan said.
If the bases developed more land for solar than it needed, it could yield the federal government up to $100 million a year in revenue or other benefits such as discounted power, the study determined.
This study only covered those bases in Nevada and California deserts. DOD, of course, has others around the country. At this point the department isn’t studying how much solar or other renewable energy it could build out on all its sites across the U.S., Morgan said.
But imagine how much solar it could install on all its bases.