U.S. Army Europe Images from Wiesbaden, Germany
The U.S. Department of Defense is one of the largest single users of energy in the world and, as such, operates under congressional mandates and branch-specific goals to reduce consumption and increase renewables, including the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and the 2007 National Defense Authorization Act.
The NDAA requires the defense department to produce or procure 25 percent of all energy from renewables by 2025. A few years ago, the U.S. Army solicited bids for $7 billion in renewable energy contracts. In June, the Army published its strategic roadmap to future energy security and sustainability. Kathy Ahsing, the director of renewable energy programs at the Army’s Office of Energy Initiatives, tells Biomass Magazine that the Army views renewable energy as a key component to its energy security and sustainability strategy.
“The Army is looking at renewable energy on our lands to increase resiliency and security for our missions when grid interruptions and outages occur, to ensure we can continue our operations,” she says. Ahsing adds that if the Army focuses on security and resiliency of its installations, then it will be able to achieve the mandates established by Congress.
In October 2014, the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville, Alabama, in coordination with OEI and Redstone Arsenal, released a request for proposals (RFP) for a 25-MW biomass-fueled combined-heat-and-power (CHP) project. Redstone Arsenal is an Army garrison located in the Tennessee Valley in Madison County, Alabama. The installation has more than 70 tenant organizations including the U.S. Army Materiel Command, U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command, Missile Defense Agency, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command, and NASA Marshall Space Flight Center. According to Terri Stover, public relations specialist with U.S. Army Garrison-Redstone Arsenal, the base occupies more than 38,000 acres and has 37,000 employees, 1,100 of whom are military (mostly officers) with 20,000 civilians and 16,000 contractors.
Sharon Greshem, program manager for the USACE Renewable Energy Power Purchase Agreement Multiple Award Task Order Contract, oversees the $7 billion bids for renewable energy contracts. She tells Biomass Magazine that 94 companies have been awarded base contracts. These include 50 solar, six geothermal, 21 wind and 17 biomass companies.
Gresham says a series of destructive tornadoes hit the area in 2011, triggering the CHP project. “Redstone Arsenal was shut down for two or three weeks from the tornadoes,” she says. “If that happened again, the power and steam from the biomass CHP plant would allow this installation to keep all mission-critical infrastructure operating.” All power and steam produced by the 25-MW CHP plant will be used on the installation and will not be sold to the grid or to Tennessee Valley Authority’s transmission—from where Redstone Arsenal currently gets its power. The average power consumption at Redstone Arsenal is approximately 49 MW, with a peak load of 75 MW and a minimum load of 38 MW. The installation also issued an RFP last year for a large solar project to supplement power to the base.
The Army is still in the process of making a selection for the CHP project, Gresham says. The Army intends to execute a land-lease agreement and sign a 30-year PPA for the renewable heat and power at a price no higher than what it currently pays TVA. The contract will also include an escalation rate.
By U.S. Army Europe Images from Wiesbaden, Germany (Now IÕm wearing army green) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons