Fort Bliss Microgrid To Reduce Energy Costs

For the Department of Defense, microgrids deliver energy security for military bases and mobile operations.
Published: Mon 10 Nov 2014

The US Army and Lockheed Martin commissioned the first Department of Defense (DoD) grid-tied microgrid integrating both renewable resources and energy storage at Fort Bliss, Texas.

The project was funded by the DoD’s Environmental Security Technology Certification Program, and Lockheed Martin received the contract in 2010.

Microgrid reduces costs

The Fort Bliss grid-tied microgrid is designed to reduce energy costs while providing the capability to operate independent of the electric utility grid when needed, providing much-needed energy security. Engerati’s The Military – A New Market Opportunity for Renewables? discusses the military’s need to develop its renewable energy sources and energy security.

Events leading up to the commissioning occurred in phases that involved installing hardware, upgrading software, bridging traditional and renewable energy generation sources and ensuring the microgrid operates efficiently. The program now enters its demonstration phase.

The Fort Bliss microgrid will provide the DoD and other government and commercial organizations with the data to transition microgrid technologies into wider scale use for sites such as defense installations, hospitals, universities, commercial businesses and industrial sites.

The microgrid consists of onsite backup generation, a 120kW solar array, a 300 W energy storage system, utility grid interconnection and Lockheed Martin’s Intelligent Microgrid Control System. The energy storage system maintains a steady stream of energy and also stores energy to respond to high periods of energy demand and to produce reliable power.

Other than the microgrid at Fort Bliss, Lockheed Martin completed Integrated Smart BEAR Power System (ISBPS) and Hybrid Intelligent Power (HI Power) microgrid system contracts last year for DoD. ISBPS equips the Air Force with lightweight, air-transportable microgrid assets to power a mobile air base. HI Power provides the Army a secure microgrid configuration to reduce fuel consumption at tactical operations centers.

Military microgrid market

The Department of Defense is already working on establishing a network of independent microgrids that integrate distributed renewable generation, electric vehicles, and demand response at its bases. The growth potential for military microgrid market is anticipated to result in upwards of 54.8MW total capacity by 2018. This is according to Red Mountain Insights which released a report, Military Microgrids Market Potential.

According to the Secretary of Defense, 40+ DoD military bases either have operating microgrids, planned microgrids, or have conducted studies of microgrid technologies. The DoD also has 600 forward operating bases (FOBs) and is investigating the deployment of mobile microgrids in Afghanistan.

Further reading

Red Mountain Insights – Military Microgrids Market Potential