World’s largest solar energy system activated by US Army

World’s largest solar energy system activated by US Army

January 22, 2013 0 By Bret Williams

Solar Energy US Army project

Army flips the switch on the world’s largest solar energy system

The U.S. military is quickly becoming the world’s largest and most aggressive supporter of alternative energy. The U.S. Army has just activated a new solar energy system in New Mexico, which is not only the largest the organization has ever used, but also the largest of its kind in the world. The solar energy system is called the White Sands Missile Range Solar Power System. The system is expected to save the Army more than $930,000 each year in energy costs.

System produces 4.1 gigawatts of renewable power

The White Sands solar energy system boasts of a capacity of 4.1 megawatts, beating out the world’s second largest solar energy system by 2 megawatts worth of electrical power. The system makes use of low-concentration photovoltaic technology, which is somewhat less efficient than high-concentration systems but also less expensive than such systems. Solar arrays cover more than 43 acres of land at the White Sands missile range.

Purchase agreement helps Army avoid costs of installation

While such an expansive system would typically come at a very high cost, the Army has not paid a single dime for it. The solar energy system was developed through a power purchase agreement with Siemens, Inc. Per the agreement, the alternative energy company would operate and maintain the solar energy system while the Army purchased energy generated by the system. Bostonia Bank is the actual owner of the solar energy project, having financed the installation at the White Sands missile range.

US military continues to support alternative energy

The U.S. Army is no stranger to solar energy. In the past, the Army has experimented with small solar energy systems mounted on backpacks that were meant to provide energy for traveling soldiers. Indeed, the whole of the military, backed by the Department of Defense, has been working to incorporate alternative energy in some way. The Navy is focusing on biofuels; the Air Force and Marines have interest in hydrogen fuel cells; and the Army has been a strong champion for the use of solar energy.

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