Air Force working on 1-hour microgrid installation

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All branches of the U.S. military have a history of innovation when it comes to technology – many of which translate cleanly into civilian life. And an ongoing development at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, could revolutionize the way the solar industry thinks about microgrids.

Research at the base is currently focusing on creating a self-contained microgrid that can be set up in an hour and can power forward operating bases around the world as future conflicts arise. What makes the project most exciting is that it can be deployed in an hour or less.

The self-contained microgrid will be housed in a 10-foot-long trailer and contain a mobile, hybrid energy storage and management system able to supply renewable energy power for forward operating base. Batteries and a microgrid command, control and communication software package completes the microgrid system, which allows it to supply on-site, mobile energy for expeditionary forces more efficiently and effectively.

“We are taking what we learned and applying it to a rapidly deployable system,” said Air Force 1st Lt. Jason Goins, project engineer, in the Air Force press release. “We are looking at something that will be set up and deployed in an hour. If you can power a shelter in 30 minutes with affordable solar and wind, that’s spectacular.”

Just because they’ve reached a breakthrough does not mean the research is over. Innovations created at the base are part of an overarching mission to meet the Air Force Civil Engineer Center’s 2035 vision to create a totally deployable, self-sustaining power system.

And the Air Force is not alone in its efforts to transition to renewable, dispatchable energy resources. At the request of the Secretary of Defense, each branch of the U.S. military has outlined ambitious renewable energy targets that will drive 3 GW of renewable energy installations by 2025, which are designed to help meet a wider DOD mandate, title 10 USC 2911, that requires 25% of total facility energy consumption to come from renewable energy sources by 2025.