Army to go solar at Redstone Arsenal

The Army is embarking on a large-scale solar energy project at Redstone Arsenal, Ala., the latest in the Defense Department’s efforts to use renewable energy at bases and other installations around the world.

The service said it will award a contract to Sunpower Corp. for the project, which will eventually provide up to 18,000 megawatt-hours per year of power. The deal is the first awarded under a Multiple Award Task Order Contract (MATOC) vehicle for renewable and alternative energy, the Army said in a release. The MATOC covers a pool of qualified vendors—for the Redstone project, the Army could choose from among 49—that can compete for individual task order contracts for solar, wind, biomass and geothermal energy.

The contract calls for Sunpower to finance, design, build, operate, own and maintain the solar facility, and sell electricity to Redstone at rates equal or less than traditional utility rates. All power generated by the facility will be used by Redstone. The company and the Army currently are working on the final technical and legal details of the project, which is a joint effort by Redstone, the Army Office of Energy Initiatives (OEI), and the Army Corps of Engineers, Engineering and Support Center in Huntsville, Ala.

The solar project is one of two large alternative energy projects at Redstone, the other being a combined heat and power project, Amanda Simpson, OEI executive director, said in a release. The focus is not just renewable energy and a smaller carbon footprint, but what Simpson called “energy security”—the idea that the solar facility could power critical operations if something goes wrong with the power grid.

The military has been a leader in alternative energy, with projects such as the Army’s Net Zero initiative, which is working to increase energy and water-use efficiency at installations and generate the power t6hose isntallations need through renewable sources. A variety of installations across the military services also are making use of solar, wind and other alternative sources.

The OEI, meanwhile, also is working on or has completed large-scale renewable energy projects in Alabama, Georgia, California, New York, Arizona, Hawaii and Maryland.

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