Military advances energy independence with microgrids
Apr 30, 2014 - Lisa Cohn - greenbiz.com
When you think about it, the military's interest
in microgrid technology makes sense: With its need
for facilities to stay powered all day every day,
getting off the grid is critical.
Microgrids provide the military with energy security
and reliability 24-7 and 365 days a year. They need
power if the entire world disappears around them," says
John Carroll, business development director for Intelligent
Power and Energy Research Corp., a New York-based
company that manufactures microgrid controls and
is a contractor for installations on four bases.
The military isn't the only organization that thinks
the Navy, Army and other arms of the government
need to get into microgrids and renewable energy.
Department of Defense recently published a report, "Quadrennial
Defense Review" (PDF), an assessment of U.S.
defense readiness, which focuses on the growing
threat that climate change poses to military capabilities
and global operations. In addition, the United
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report
says that we'll be seeing more extreme weather
across the globe.
Given all these pressures, Carroll predicts that
the military market for microgrids is in the tens
of billions of dollars. "The total available
market is huge," he says.
What's more, the military's interest in microgrids
is fueling the interest of municipalities and utilities.
The military is the technology leader. Every utility
is looking at the Department of Defense for how they
are deploying microgrids. At conferences all over
the country, utilities and municipalities are coming
together to understand what the military has been
doing," he says. "The military is absolutely
Microgrid military potential
The military microgrid market will produce more
than 54.8 megawatts (MW) of capacity by 2018, according
to a report from Red Mountain Insights, "Military
Microgrids Market Potential." More than 40
U.S. military bases have microgrids in operation
planning or studying them. Afghanistan, in particular,
needs efficient, mobile microgrids. The Department
of Defense moves about 50 million gallons of fuel
monthly in Afghanistan, much of it to power more
than 15,000 generators, according to the report.
Intelligent Power and Energy Research Corp., which
has been in the microgrid business for 10 years,
sees all this as good news for its company. However,
says Carroll, funding the installations is a major
challenge. The four base installations were funded
by the Smart Power Infrastructure Demonstration
for Energy Reliability and Security, a Department
That program will end this time next year," Carroll
said. "The next step: It will be up to individual
bases and their budgets, or private partnerships
and state grants. It will become a collage of money
A collage of issues have come together to create
the need for the military to embrace microgrids.
Will the collage of funding sources help fill the
Army microgrid image courtesy of U.S. Army.