Our military is leading the charge for energy independence by working towards new, sustainable methods of generating energy at a number of installations. The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, which lies off the coast of southern Maine, has taken steps to over the past decade to build out their alternative energy resources.
Located just a few miles north of the New Hampshire boarder, the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard features a number of ambitious projects aimed at diversifying their energy portfolio.
Portsmouth’s energy projects include a solar thermal wall and a combined heat and power (CHP) plant. Together, these technologies save the base millions of dollars through the generation of renewable energy. They work by capturing the energy wasted during electricity generation. The captured energy is used to produce additional power for the base.
In 2014, Maine Senator Angus King toured the shipyard and noted of the importance of DoD clean energy initiatives. In an interview with Seacoast Online, Senator King said, “Since we are in an age of tight budgets, we need to think about how to use energy efficiently. The cheapest gallon of oil is the one you don’t have to buy.”
Energy-saving project like those at Portsmouth are largely the result of Energy Savings Performance Contracts (ESPC). ESPCs help federal agencies secure energy savings and facility improvements with no up-front capital costs or special appropriations from Congress.
The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard has taken full advantage of ESPCs. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Navy hired Ameresco, a leading renewable energy and energy efficiency company, to design and install three energy conservation projects at Portsmouth.
The three projects will be funded by an ESPC, and Ameresco will also work on a microgrid located on the base, which is funded by a grant that is used to demonstrate islanding capabilities that eliminates downtime during a loss of the public-utility electricity.
What many Americans don’t realize is that these clean energy projects are not primarily geared toward saving the environment. Energy use is vital to most aspects of military operations, and as the single largest consumer of energy and oil in the world, the U.S. military is always looking for ways to increase their energy efficiency. The DoD’s goal to deploy 1 gigawatt of renewable power on Navy installations by 2020 exemplifies our military’s need for new and sustainable sources of energy.
We applaud the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard for their actions in sustainability. Their work represents our military’s ability to look towards new technology as an answer to budget constraints and security concerns over energy consumption and availability.
If you are interested in learning more about how our nation’s armed forces are integrating clean energy, be sure to follow our new Defense Spotlight Series.