Solar panels being installed as part of power microgrid
The U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center will soon have a solar-powered microgrid to supply electricity to two laboratories and to power the Detroit Arsenal parking lot lights. This photo shows similar solar panels ... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

WARREN, Mich. (Feb. 7, 2012) -- The first solar-powered microgrid to provide energy to an Army installation is scheduled to be operational this spring. U.S. Army engineers will install the system at Detroit Arsenal.

"Smart microgrids are at the heart of what we're doing to address energy security," said Dorothy Robyn, deputy undersecretary of defense for Installations and Environment.

"It allows us to be more energy efficient on a day-to-day basis. It facilitates the adoption of renewable technology, and most important, if the [installation] grid is disrupted, it allows us to continue to operate critical functions," Robyn said.

Engineers from the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center, or TARDEC, will install the self-contained system of electrical generation that will use fuel cells, wind, solar and other energy sources said electrical engineer Jillian McDonald, who is leading the project.

"If we had a power outage, as TARDEC did over the Fourth of July weekend [in 2011], those [labs supported] would still be able to operate," McDonald said.

The microgrid will power two System Integration Laboratories and lights for the the arsenal's parking lot. Depending on installation energy demands, the microgrid could provide additional power to arsenal users.

"We did a power study and it looks as if the [labs] actually are less of a load than we thought, so we might be able to power more of [the building that houses the labs]," McDonald said.

Two other sustainability efforts included in this project will allow the bi-directional flow of energy. A 5 kilowatt mobile solar generator and charging station will be installed for a Smart Plug-in Hybrid-Electric Vehicle in addition to a 100 kilowatt Tactical Mobile Vehicle Charging System. This charging station will be used to charge up to four electric vehicles without requiring connection to the installation grid.

Related Links:

Office of Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Installations and Environment Energy News

U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command

STAND-TO!: Army Operational Energy Strategy