Marines Enlist Microgrid to Provide Cover During Power Outages

To meet any contingency, threat or challenge that might arise, the United States military conducts a variety of live exercises to ensure it is well prepared to respond to "real world" situations. Some involve battlefields, some move troops and materials halfway around the world and some focus on disaster relief operations.

A recent exercise at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar demonstrated that clean energy technology in the form of a microgrid can help installations maintain mission readiness should the larger electrical grid go down.

During the six-hour test, the installation’s Public Works building was disconnected from San Diego Gas and Electric's transmission system. Operations continued as power from Miramar’s 230-kilowatt solar array and a series of refrigerator-sized battery modules housed in stackable shipping containers took over.

The successful employment of the 180-kilowatt energy and storage system helped show that alternative energy resources can provide what the military calls energy assurance – on-demand independent and sustained power to maintain critical and support operations at fixed locations, forward operating bases and remote locations.

The system was installed at Miramar last year by Raytheon Corporation and Primus Power of Hayward, whose battery design was funded in part through a grant from the California Energy Commission's energy research program. The overall project was funded by the Office of Secretary of Defense, through the Environmental Security Technology Certification Program, as well as the Office of Naval Research. The Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory played a key role in the development, testing and evaluation of the system.

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