Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The military takes the lead in renewable energy

The federal government, via the Department of Defense, is finally taking the lead in renewable energy. This will speed the “mainstreaming” of renewable energy technology. Action is taking the place of words and minor financial incentives at long last. More private-sector jobs are an important added bonus. The military obviously sees the immediate need to break its long dependence on oil(mostly imported from not-always-friendly countries). Hopefully this will help Congress and the Senate see the light and speed the country as a whole in this direction.

Sunpower Corp.(SPWRA) has signed contracts with the General Services Administration, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Navy. New solar power installations for these government agencies will comprise a minimum of 20MW. Sunpower estimates creation of 1,000 new local construction jobs. Locations are in the west and mid-west, in Colorado, Indiana and Arizona and are expected to start producing power next summer. The U.S. Marines are also getting into solar power with suitcase-sized installations for field use.

Wind power is also in the picture. The U.S. Coast Guard installed a 2.4MW wind turbine at its Southwest Harbor Base in Maine. The Coast Guard is shooting for a zero-carbon footprint for housing at this base and also installed solar panels and solar hot water heaters. This closely follows the U.S. Army’s first wind project at the Toole Army Depot in Utah.

The Army has so far been focusing on geothermal energy production. The Air Force is moving forward on renewable biofuels for its aircraft.

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