The Army is considering adding utility-scale batteries at a number of installations with existing renewable energy projects to bolster their resilience. The initiative follows a 1-megawatt battery project at Redstone Arsenal, Ala., which went online last February and comes as storage options have become more affordable, Michael McGhee, executive director of the Army Office of Energy Initiatives (OEI), told the Army News Service.
Several battery projects “are in the works” and could come this year, McGhee said. “Large-scale affordable battery storage … provides the most compelling new option paths available that are intriguing to improving resilience on Army installations,” he said.
A variety of installations with large solar arrays — including Forts Gordon, Benning and Stewart in Georgia; Fort Rucker and Anniston Army Depot in Alabama; and Fort Detrick, Md. — along with Fort Hood, Texas, which obtains power from an onsite array and an off-site wind farm, could benefit from battery storage, McGhee said.
Another trend for 2019 could be the increased use of natural gas as its cost declines and design improvements allow the use of smaller gas-fired plants. The local utility in Lawton, Okla., is exploring the possibility of developing a natural gas-fired power plant and a solar array on Fort Sill, he said. The utility would lease land for the two projects through an enhanced use lease (EUL) and provide the Army a backup power capability in return, according to the story.
OEI typically uses EULs or power purchase agreements for its projects. To build microgrids, though, the office is looking at a range of options, including direct Army funding, energy savings performance contracts and utility energy service contracts. “We’re weaving together a collection of authorities that very often are not considered in concert,” McGhee said.
Photo courtesy of U.S. Army