Marines Enlist Microgrid Technology to Provide Cover During Power Outages

To meet any contingency, threat or challenge that might arise, the United States Navy conducts live exercises to ensure it is well prepared to respond to "real world" situations. Some involve battle scenarios; some move sailors, Marines and materials halfway around the world; and some focus on disaster relief.

But the Navy also conducts exercises to ensure mission readiness is maintained should the normal energy supply be disrupted, and increasingly, the service is turning to renewable energy.

For several years, the Navy and Marines have been investing in innovative clean energy technologies as part of what it calls energy assurance – on-demand independent and sustained power to maintain critical and support operations at fixed locations, forward operating bases and remote locations.

Once such test of the technology came a few months ago when Marine Corps Air Station, Miramar held a six-hour exercise to determine if clean energy technology could adequately fill the power gap if the electrical grid went down. Its public works building was disconnected from the local utility, but operations continued as normal powered by the installation’s microgrid system funded in part by the California Energy Commission.

Microgrids are small-scale electrical systems that provide and manage power independent of the larger electric grid. They are being used worldwide to support facilities with critical energy needs like hospitals, industrial complexes, university campuses and now, military installations. Miramar’s system consists of a 230-killowatt solar panel array and a series of refrigerator-sized battery modules housed in large, stackable shipping containers.

The Energy Commission has also funded microgrid projects at Twentynine Palms Marine Base in San Bernardino County and Camp Pendleton in San Diego.

The California Energy Commission and the Department of the Navy will meet at Stanford University Oct. 12 to formalize their ongoing partnership that will help Navy and Marine Corps installations in the state transition to renewable energy alternatives to meet California and the Department of Defense climate and energy goals.

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Renewable Energy

California Energy Commission

The California Energy Commission is the state's primary energy policy and planning agency created by the Legislature in 1974.
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