Navy to install solar arrays at Washington, D.C., base 

Source: Ariel Wittenberg, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, June 11, 2015

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus today announced the service’s first solar project at an urban installation, with a 6- to 8-megawatt project planned at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, D.C.

The Navy is already well ahead of schedule to meet its goal of producing half of its energy from renewable resources by 2020.

Speaking at the GreenGov Symposium hosted by the White House Council on Environmental Quality, Mabus said the Navy expects to meet that goal by the end of this year, adding, “I’m not satisfied with stopping there.”

Currently, the Navy’s renewable power is produced at rural installations. Now, Mabus said, “We want to figure out how to do this in other places, particularly urban places, where there is not a lot of land or endless space.”

This summer, the Navy will issue a request for proposals for the Anacostia-Bolling project, which will include rooftop solar arrays and solar carports.

While the solar technology used at the base is not new, Mabus said there are “special military concerns” to installing solar panels in urban settings.

“We have force protection requirements, and we want to be able to see people moving between their vehicles,” he said. “So we need a mix of rooftop parking and open-space parking to make that work.”

The Anacostia-Bolling project is part of the Obama administration’s Capital Solar Challenge, which directs federal agencies to use renewables to power operations in the greater D.C. area.

Within the military, the Navy has been a pioneer of alternative power, with energy efficiency and biofuel initiatives.

Mabus said Russian aggression in Crimea and elsewhere in Ukraine shows the importance of the United States being energy independent.

“Power can be used as a weapon; energy can be used as a weapon,” he said. “I don’t want that weapon to be used against us. It is a national security issue.”