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This article was originally published in our The Public Good: Reports from the Front Lines (October 26, 2017), available here. Florida produces 90 percent of our winter tomatoes. The Immokalee region in southwestern Florida grows one-third of all U.S. tomatoes. The plight of farmworkers in the … Read More
Yesterday New York Times reporter Matt Wald had a piece on the role of energy storage in supporting the expansion of renewable energy. However, his specific focus on solar thermal power generation overlooks the potentially high costs of relying on … Read More
The following map was the headline graphic to our 2009 report, Energy Self-Reliant States, the report that inspired this blog. I re-created the map for web viewing, so it’s now even easier to share how each state can meet its electricity consumption with in-state renewable energy resources.
The renewable resources considered include on- and off-shore wind, rooftop solar PV, hydro, combined heat and power, and high-temperature geothermal. Read the Energy Self-Reliant States report for more details.
There’s no better illustration of the value of distributed renewable energy than the U.S. military. In Iraq, the 50,000 U.S. troops (as of August 2010) use 600 million gallons of fuel per year at a cost of dozens of lives of U.S. soldiers who die protecting fuel convoys and financial cost of nearly $27 billion for fuel and security ($45 per gallon!). New distributed renewable energy systems can help combat brigades reduce fuel consumption, saving lives and money.
One Marine company – Company I, Third Battalion, Fifth Marines – field-tested the Ground Renewable Expeditionary ENergy System (GREENS) system in August 2010 and found that it saved 8 gallons of fuel per day for each of the company’s 150 men. Complemented with other renewable energy systems, the Marines powered their combat operations center without using the diesel generator for eight days.
The renewable technology that will power Company I costs about $50,000 to $70,000; a single diesel generator costs several thousand dollars. But when it costs hundreds of dollars to get each gallon of traditional fuel to base camps in Afghanistan, the investment is quickly defrayed.”
It takes approximately 200 GREENS (1,600 kilowatts of solar modules with battery storage for 300 Watts of continuous power) to replace a single 60 kilowatt diesel generator, but it saved the Marine company 1,200 gallons of fuel per day. In Iraq, that fuel would have cost $45 per gallon, including transportation and security costs. That’s a savings of $54,000 in a single day. If priced at $70,000 each, the 200 GREENS will pay back in 260 days, less than 9 months.
If every U.S. company serving in Iraq made use of GREENS, it would reduce fuel consumption by U.S. troops by 25%, saving 146 million gallons of fuel and $6.5 billion per year.
There are benefits besides saved fuel and money. Marines appreciated that the solar-powered base systems are quiet, and also don’t require constant refueling. The no-fuel requirement also benefits security, as 72 U.S. soldiers died protecting convoys in Iraq in 2009.
The military provides a great illustration of the utility and cost-effectiveness of distributed generation, and one that should inform state-side strategies for energy deployment.