Military invests in solar power despite Trump stance

Source: By Ed Crooks, Financial Times • Posted: Monday, August 27, 2018

The U.S. military has ramped up its investments in solar power even though President Trump continues to push for coal and lacks enthusiasm for solar.

Solar panels at bases provide a cost-effective, resilient power source, said Michael McGhee, leader of the Army’s Office of Energy Initiatives.

“We are required to be ready no matter what the circumstances,” McGhee said. “What we are looking at when we see renewables is a self-resupplying power source.”

Trump called solar power “very expensive” in 2016. The military, however, continues to eye renewable projects and to work with companies to lower costs.

The Army upped its renewable energy capacity by 59 percent in fiscal 2016 and said it planned to add an additional 100 megawatts in fiscal 2017.

SunPower Corp. added a 10-MW solar system this year at the Army’s Redstone Arsenal in Alabama and has also built systems for the Navy and Air Force in California and Nevada. The Redstone project includes 1 MW of battery backup, as well.

Power and communications disruptions at Redstone Arsenal after a 2011 tornado hit the local power grid made the Army “acutely aware of the vulnerability of the power system,” McGhee said.