U.S. Military Partners With Local Utility for 120 Mw Solar Plants in Florida

Millitary Solar Farm

By Arman Kazemi

January 29, 2015

Last week, the Florida utility Gulf Power announced that it has teamed up with the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy to build a series of solar plants across three army facilities in Northwest Florida. At a combined capacity of 120-megawatts, the project would be the largest photovoltaic producer in the state. 

As one of the biggest institutional energy consumers in the world, the Department of Defence has set out to curb its total operational reliance on fossil fuels. Part of that plan involves meeting 25 per cent of the U.S. Army’s total energy needs by 2025 using alternative energy resources, according to its 2011 Operational Energy Strategy,

Once approved by the Florida Public Service Commission, the power plants could be in service by December 2016, with a combined ability to power 18,000 homes, according to a Gulf Power press release.

At the same time, the solar network will provide military operations an alternative energy source in case of emergency outages.

“This is an important collaboration between Gulf Power, the Navy and the Air Force,” Gulf Power President and CEO Stan Connally said in the release. “As military installations seek solutions to promote renewable energy generation, we have worked alongside our military customers to help provide cost-effective solutions—and all our customers will reap the benefit.”

As the federal department with the largest carbon footprint, the Canadian military also has a vested interest in diversifying its energy resources.

While it hasn’t gone so far as to co-partner with solar project developers, the Canadian Department of National Defence has taken some measures.

In 2008, the Canadian Armed Forces established a Directorate of Fuels and Lubricants “to monitor the fuel consumption and efficiency of Canadian Forces assets and to set standards for the use of alternative fuels,” according to an article in Hill Times.

The military has also launched a 10-year project called “Grow Clean Air” to plant an “urban forest” ecosystem at every operational base in the country by 2018, the idea being to offset carbon emissions resulting from army activity. There has even been some limited interest in supplementing grid energy with a portable mini solar and wind energy station in the military’s arctic mission.