U.S. Military Sees Great Value in Distributed Renewable Energy

Date: 22 Dec 2010 | posted in: Energy, Energy Self Reliant States | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

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.

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The Fragmentation of American Energy Policy

Date: 17 Dec 2010 | posted in: Energy, Energy Self Reliant States | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

Last week was a tough one for distributed solar markets in several states, as a remarkable number of renewable energy incentive programs hit their budget or capacity caps, or are shrinking in scope: San Diego Gas & Electric’s allocation of … Read More

Change in Tax Credit Policy Drives 24% Drop in Residential Solar Price

Date: 16 Dec 2010 | posted in: Energy, Energy Self Reliant States | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

Update: It’s important to note that this refers to the net installed cost.  In other words, the installed cost dropped because residential solar customers were now getting an uncapped federal tax credit. We wrote in this 2009 report about the … Read More

Distributed Solar Power, Analyzed

Date: 14 Dec 2010 | posted in: Energy, Energy Self Reliant States | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

Yesterday we discussed the spread of solar carports in California, highlighting the Milpitas School District’s 14 distributed solar PV arrays.  According to a news story, the district anticipates savings of $12 million over 25 years from the projects, which were … Read More

Perverse Policy Makes Distributed Renewables More Expensive

Date: 9 Dec 2010 | posted in: Energy, Energy Self Reliant States | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

We’ve talked previously about the perversity of using tax credits to incentivize renewable energy production, increasing transaction costs and reducing participation in renewable energy development.  But there are other perversities in U.S. state and utility renewable energy policies, especially with … Read More

A Guide to Community Solar

Date: 7 Dec 2010 | posted in: Energy, Energy Self Reliant States | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

If you like reading about “what we can do better” in community solar policy, check out our report – Community Solar Power: Obstacles and Opportunities – but if you like a very detailed exploration of how the three major models for community solar navigate the ins and outs of existing incentives and regulations, and a primer on how to set up a community solar project, you can’t go wrong with NREL’s Guide to Community Solar

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