The microgrid industry has been carefully watching for news of how the US Army will go about installing microgrids at all of its bases — and now the details are becoming available.
In a climate implementation plan released last week, the Army lays out its five-year strategy to begin installing the new microgrids, part of a larger effort to microgrid 130 bases by 2035.
The Army’s pursuit of microgrids stems from concern that it is not sufficiently climate-resilient: “Army investments and partnerships are not optimized for a climate-altered world,” the report says. It is not prepared to ward off what the report describes as a “threat multiplier” brought on by climate change.
Melting polar ice offers one example of this threat multiplier because as more land becomes exposed, new routes to North America will open, making the US more vulnerable to outside attack.
“The Arctic will become more accessible to military forces and civilian commerce in the coming decades meaning that Army forces must be more ready to defend the homeland and its circumpolar and transpolar approaches,” the implementation plan says.
Warding off ‘threat multipliers’
The document also points to threat multipliers related to drought and flooding, which will displace people and increase the likelihood of conflict, putting more pressure on the Army to supply humanitarian aid.
“As extreme weather becomes commonplace, the Army must adapt its installations, acquisition programs and training so that the Army can operate in this changing environment and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions,” said Army Secretary Christine Wormuth. “This climate implementation plan will improve our resiliency and readiness in the face of these changes.”
Microgrids are particularly important to the Army because of their ability to island from the grid and provide independent energy. “The essential characteristic of any Army microgrid is its ability to power mission-critical systems of an installation or contingency base in ‘island’ mode during grid disturbances and disruptions,” the plan says.
Microgrid plan by the numbers
The Army identified as critical 20 microgrids that it plans to have either in design or under construction by 2024. By 2026, it wants to have 15 microgrids completed and in operation and another 20 microgrids operating by 2027.
The report sets a target to have microgrids meet 30% of mission-critical energy demand by 2027 or 50% for what it calls its mission assurance installations, power projection platforms and mobilization force generation installations.
Next year, the Army will establish a policy to acquire and implement battery storage for its microgrids.
Other Army energy goals
The plan also focuses on developing carbon-free on-site energy projects, with no less than three planned for 2023 and no less than 10 by 2027. By 2030, the Army intends to have 100% carbon-free electricity for all of its bases, which it will try to achieve by working in collaboration with energy suppliers and local utilities.
Another Army priority is the decarbonization of its fleet. The plan includes deadlines for achieving net-zero emissions and electrification for its various fleets and demonstrating wired and wireless charging.
The Army also put forward goals for energy efficiency, renewable energy, waste-to-energy and waste heat harvesting systems for tactical environments, as well as carbon capture, renewable fuel production and other climate strategies.
Every two years it will publish lessons learned from the programs.
The 50-page Army Climate Strategy Implementation Plan is available on the Army’s website.
The document is a follow-up to its climate strategy report issued in February that focuses on broader long-term goals.
Like other divisions of the US military, the Army already has several microgrids in operation or development.
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