As the U.S. Army continues to modernize, it’s showing a lot of interest in something black, shiny, metallic and non-lethal—solar. In fact each of the United State's armed forces branches, the Navy, Air Force and Army have committed to installing 1 gigawatt of renewable energy by 2025 and pledge to supply 25 percent of their energy from renewables. With the announcement on Aug. 27, the Army is soldiering ahead with its plans to lead the way.
The announcement comes about a year after the Army issued a MATOC (multi-award task order contract), a request for proposals (RFP) from multiple vendors to meet its needs. It chose 22 companies out of 114 that applied to serve as a pool of qualified solar installers and project developers that the Army can choose from to respond to task orders to develop solar projects.
“The government is awarding this contract for use in competing and awarding Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) task orders,” according to the Department of Defense. The projects will be located on private land or on installations under jurisdiction of DOD, it said.
The PPAs will be for up to 30 year periods to purchase energy from renewable and alternative energy production facilities. The particular projects covered in this task order will all be solar energy projects. When the MATOC was announced last year, the Army said it would cover multiple alternative energy technologies, including solar, wind, geothermal and biomass.
The list of selected project developers includes some companies with national reach like SunPower, Johnson Controls and Dominion Energy. But it also includes more local or regional solar companies like Standard Solar, which serves the Mid-Atlantic and Borrego Solar, which installs in San Diego and surrounding areas.
The Army is expected to move forward quickly on installing solar projects. When it announced the MATOC last year it planned on issuing task orders for between 100 megawatts and 300 megawatts annually. And it could start issuing task orders within three to six months.
The move is just the latest for the DOD, which as the world’s single largest energy user is attempting to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels and imported fuels. The DOD sees the move to renewables as a way to enhance its energy independence and reduce dependence on countries that may not be allied with the U.S.
In addition to these efforts, other efforts are underway to install solar on bases. For instance, SolarStrong is a SolarCity project that’s swiftly moving ahead and installing a total of 300 megawatts of solar on roughly 120,000 military residences across the county. SolarCity partnered with Bank of America Merill Lynch and U.S. Renewables Group on the project.