SunPower to Install Microgrid-Ready Solar at Alabama Army Post

June 6, 2016
Solar manufacturing giant SunPower plans to begin building a 10-MW microgrid-ready solar power plant at a U.S. Army post in Alabama this month.

Solar manufacturing giant SunPower plans to begin building a 10-MW microgrid-ready solar power plant at a U.S. Army post in Alabama this month.

The Silicon Valley-based company will supply the solar energy to the Redstone Arsenal U.S. Army post under a 27-year power purchase agreement (PPA).

The deal marks another in a growing number of ‘microgrid-ready’ projects being announced. Such projects are designed to be easily connected into a microgrid in the future.

Renewable microgrids are increasingly being pursued by the U.S. military to couple their clean energy goals with their need for energy security.

The Army has set a goal to secure 25 percent of its needed energy from renewables by 2025, and install 1 GW of renewables on Army installations.

The military also is striving to become more energy self-sufficient to ensure its facilities have electric supply in case of a cyberattack, storm or other disaster. To that end, it is increasingly installing microgrids at its bases and employing mobile microgrids in the field.

Solar, alone, does not ensure reliable supply. For safety reasons, grid-connected solar stops supplying power when an outage occurs on the central grid. Solar microgrids, however, continue to operate and serve their customers by islanding from the grid during an outage and then supplying power from their onsite solar panels.

The microgrid-ready solar project was developed by Redstone Arsenal’s Directorate of Public Works, the U.S. Army Office of Energy Initiatives and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – Huntsville Center’s Energy Division. It was designed by SunPower; the company will be responsible for the project’s construction, operations and maintenance.

This deal marks the first PPA project solicited through a renewable and alternative energy Multiple Award Task Order Contract (MATOC) and awarded by Huntsville Center.

The Redstone Arsenal project will use a SunPower Oasis Power Plant system – a fully-integrated, modular solar power block engineered for rapid deployment – at the site. It is expected to generate up to 18,000 MWh/year.

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About the Author

Elisa Wood | Editor-in-Chief

Elisa Wood is an award-winning writer and editor who specializes in the energy industry. She is chief editor and co-founder of Microgrid Knowledge and serves as co-host of the publication’s popular conference series. She also co-founded RealEnergyWriters.com, where she continues to lead a team of energy writers who produce content for energy companies and advocacy organizations.

She has been writing about energy for more than two decades and is published widely. Her work can be found in prominent energy business journals as well as mainstream publications. She has been quoted by NPR, the Wall Street Journal and other notable media outlets.

“For an especially readable voice in the industry, the most consistent interpreter across these years has been the energy journalist Elisa Wood, whose Microgrid Knowledge (and conference) has aggregated more stories better than any other feed of its time,” wrote Malcolm McCullough, in the book, Downtime on the Microgrid, published by MIT Press in 2020.

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