The United State’s Department of Defense has a target of generation 25 percent of its total energy use from renewable sources by 2025. A large part of achieving that goal is to enter into power purchase agreements (known as PPAs) that afford military installations all the benefits and cost-savings of solar energy without having to actually own and maintain the systems.
One such project that is set to begin producing clean, renewable solar energy before the year’s end will be constructed at the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, located in Tucson, Arizona.
Through a PPA with SunEdison, LLC, the air force base will allow the company to install a 14.5-megawatt solar photovoltaic (PV) system on “underutilized base property”–170 ares of it to be exact. SunEdison will own the system and manage the installation process entirely, including design, finance, construction and operation and maintenance throughout the life of the system.
In exchange for the installation on base property, the Davis-Monthan facility will save an average of $400,000 to $500,000 annually over the next 25 years by purchasing electricity at a predetermined, reduced rate through the PPA.
SunEdison says the solar array will generate enough electricity to support about 35 percent of the base’s energy demand.
The Davis-Monthan installation will be just a little larger than a massive solar PV system installed five years ago at Nellis Air Force Base near Las Vegas, Nevada. When originally constructed in 2007, that 15 MW system was the largest solar array in North America. It was originally estimated to save the air force $1 million for each year it was in operation.
The solar projects at Nellis and Davis-Monthan AFBs are just a couple of the many projects the military will construct over the coming years as it increasingly turns to renewable energy as a way to increase national security, create a reliable energy alternative and decrease expenses and environmental impact.
For its part, the Air Force plans to add 30 more projects to the 131 solar, wind, waste-to-energy and landfill gas projects already in operation around the country. These new projects are scheduled to be completed by the end of next year in accordance with the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and Executive Order 13423.