Among Energy Consumers, Military Showcases Improved Energy Infrastructure through Microgrids
As a significant consumer of electricity, military installations can increasingly benefit from flexibility of microgrids and renewable energy proliferation.
To help address the need for decentralized, safeguarded energy generation, Team Gemini integrates a specific setup of technologies in its overall development approach. As part of a closed-loop system, consistent renewable energy supply, the application of microgrids within a facility’s utility management infrastructure is integral in combining different energy sources, clean electric power, backup power, and more.
One of the primary examples of how these goals can be achieved, and why efforts to do so are increasingly beneficial, can be seen in the continuing efforts by military stakeholders to adopt renewable energy technologies. Besides significant gains in energy savings and independence, additional benefits include resource generation for surrounding utilities and communities, as well as protection against energy losses or disturbances.
A newly published report by The Pew Charitable Trusts highlights some of these benefits:
The U.S. military could save hundreds of millions of dollars each year by switching its bases from diesel backup generators to more efficient microgrids. Furthermore, the military can enhance security against the threat of grid outages from extreme weather or cyberattacks, achieve its efficiency and renewable energy commitments, and even make money from microgrid-generated power in some states.
That’s according to a new report entitled Power Begins at Home, which earned accolades from outgoing military officials at a presentation last week in Washington, D.C.
The Department of Defense has more than 284,000 buildings in the U.S., and consumes about 1 percent of the country’s electricity, or almost $4 billion worth of power a year.
Microgrids, by contrast [to Diesel generators], use fewer central generators that are far easier to operate and maintain, along with a networked architecture that allows for more reliability and flexibility as bases add or remove loads.
They can also be properly sized to cover an entire base’s annual peak critical loads. “Excess generation is almost always available and can serve any load to which the microgrid is connected, including those loads whose priority falls between ‘critical’ and ‘non-critical,’” the report states. This could include covering the power needs of a much larger portion of the base — or, perhaps, serving the energy needs of local utilities, or selling power back to the grid at large.
Further improvements to microgrid technologies are predicted to include better options for battery and other forms of energy storage. To that end, among the benefits of Anaerobic Digestion (AD) and Combined Heat and Power units (CHPs)—developed through Team Gemini’s bio-refinery options—is the flexibility in storing biogas, methane gas, CNG, and other gases to be used and processed through CHPs as is needed; in other words, this already allows for some form of energy storage for use with a smart-grid, and can also be combined with solar, wind, and even fossil fuel sources.
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