Siemens to implement largest PV array at US Army base

New Mexico’s White Sands Missile Range (WSMR) will soon have a nearly 4.5 megawatt PV array, which will be the largest at a U.S. Army facility when completed this year, thanks to Siemens Government Technologies, Inc. This U.S. branch of the German electronics giant won a $16.8 million task order with the U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center to upgrade the missile-testing facility with solar and energy-efficiency upgrades.

When completed, the PV array will supply the base with 10.8 percent of its energy needs by the end of 2012, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. That’s up from .5 percent at this point, and it will beat a 2013 government mandate by more than 3 percentage points, according to Siemens. It’s also supporting President Obama’s directive that federal agencies use energy-saving performance contracts to make $2 billion worth of energy-efficiency upgrades over the next two years.

Siemens plans to do further work with the site, according to Natasha Shah, director, Federal Energy Center of Excellence with Siemens Industry Building Technologies.

“The intent is to assist WSMR get to NetZero [energy use] and assist with achieving energy security and meet their overall renewable energy goals,” she said.

Siemens also has been working with the military to develop smart-grids for bases, so that they can operate independently of the larger electric grid if it ever went down.

The solar array will use crystalline photovoltaics. It is designed in such a way that the site can accommodate more solar in the future. At this point Siemens has already started work on grading the land for the ground-mounted array. The company is planning to complete work on the array in late April or May.

Under the agreement, Siemens will own and operate the PV array under a third-party ownership agreement, according to Shah. But the Army will own the roughly 10,000 solar renewable energy credits that the array is expected to generate on an annual basis.

The third-party ownership agreement allows the Army to qualify for a 30 percent federal cash grant in excess of $4.8 million.

Pictured: Not actually tied to this story, the civilian cutting the ribbon is Colorado’s former governor, Bill Ritter, who is a bit of a rock star when it comes to renewables. Image courtesy of NREL.