Military microgrids continue to spring up throughout the United States as the Department of Defense (DoD) strives to ensure reliable electric supply for its bases and reduce reliance on fossil fuels.
Now a new report by Navigant Research pegs how much the military is likely to invest installing microgrids in the next several years.
Released today, “Military Microgrids” estimates spending will reach $1.4 billion by 2026, up from about $453.3 million this year.
The military was an early supporter of microgrids, creating demonstration projects that helped the technology reach commercialization. Several military branches continue to build microgrids — from complex projects with multiple forms of energy — to mobile, quick-to-assemble units in remote and hostile terrain.
“The DOD has played a remarkably consistent role in commercializing new technologies that provide tremendous social benefits within the larger civilian realm of society, including microgrids,” says Peter Asmus, principal research analyst at Navigant Research. “Perhaps the biggest impact the DoD could have on future microgrid growth globally is in the developing world.”
For example, installing remote microgrids could hasten grid repair in Puerto Rico as the island recovers from the September 20 landfall of Hurricane Maria. Power had been restored to only 30 percent of customers (measured in peak load) as of Monday, according to the US Department of Energy. Most of the island’s grid was destroyed in the hurricane.
In addition to hurricanes, Navigant cites several other spurs for more military microgrids. They include the potential for cyber and physical attack on the grid, Trump’s push for more defense spending, and growing tension with North Korea.
The military has been trying to reduce its reliance on petroleum. In war zones use of diesel presents hazards because it often must be transported through hostile territory to reach military outposts. Such convoys are a frequent target for enemy attack.
Navigant points out that the DoD is the single largest consumer of petroleum in the world. Given their efficiency, military microgrids offer an opportunity for the U.S. government to reduce the $4 billion it spends on energy across its 523 military installations and 280,000 buildings. Navigant says that shifting from a reliance on backup diesel generators to large-scale microgrids could save the DoD $8-$20 billion over the next 20 years.
An executive summary of the report is available free of charge.
See more articles on this topic on Microgrid Knowledge’s military microgrid channel.