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Gina-Marie Cheeseman headshot

US Navy Invests $30 Million In Hawaii’s Renewable Energy

The U.S. military is a big emitter of greenhouse gas emissions. It takes a lot of energy to power all those military bases. Factor in all of its planes, jeeps, etc. and you get the picture. The U.S. Department of the Navy realizes that fact and is investing in renewable energy to reduce costs and risks associated with the transport of fossil fuels. The Office of Naval Research (ONR) announced recently that it will invest $30 million in Energy Excelerator, a Hawaii-based program that funds the development of clean energy innovations. The program part of ONR’s Asia-Pacific Technology and Education Program (APTEP), which supports innovative energy technologies.

Hawaii is a great market for renewable energy with its abundance of sunshine, wind and potential for wave power. Hawaii also is a gateway to the Asia-Pacific rim. Or, as Energy Excelerator states on its website, “Hawaii has the highest electricity prices in the U.S., aggressive clean energy goals, diverse natural resources, and deep connections to the Asia Pacific markets.”

“The Energy Excelerator helps startups succeed, starting in Hawaii – one of the best early markets for energy innovation,” said Dawn Lippert, the project’s senior manager. “We are excited to see ONR supporting companies that have the potential to make a really big impact in solving global energy problems.”

The Navy’s five energy goals include increasing alternative energy use

The investment in Energy Excelerator helps the Navy meet its energy goals. In 2009, the Navy announced its five new energy goals. One of those goals is increasing alternative energy use across the Department of the Navy to 50 percent of total energy consumption by 2020. The other four goals are:

  • Making evaluating energy factors mandatory when awarding Department of the Navy contracts for systems and buildings.
  • Demonstrate a Green Strike Group in local operations by 2012 and sail it by 2016.
  • Reduce petroleum in the commercial fleet by 50 percent by 2015.
  • Produce at least 50 percent of shore-based energy requirements from alternative sources by 2020. Fifty percent of Navy and Marine Corps installations will be net-zero.

How the Navy is investing in renewable energy

Solar power will be one key to meeting the 50 percent increase in alternatives. The Navy is installing solar panels on rooftops, carports, and other places, including on the ground. Five different solar installations show the array of  projects the Navy has completed:

  • A 1.1 MW ground-mounted system at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms in Southern California.
  • An 806 kW carport and 51.1 kW Building Integrated PV at the Navy base in Coronado in Southern California.
  • A 309 kW roof of a WWII aircraft hangar at the Navy base in Pearl Harbor.
  • A 225 kw rooftop system at the Marine base in San Diego.
  • An 87 kw rooftop PV system at the Navy base in Ventura County.
The Navy is also investing in other forms of renewable energy, including ocean power. The Navy’s Ocean Energy team awarded five different contracts in 2009 to support the evaluation and development of ocean energy systems. Given the proximity of Navy bases to the ocean, that makes perfect sense.

[image credit: Official U.S. Navy Page: Flickr cc]

Gina-Marie Cheeseman headshotGina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by Mashable.com.

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