Harper Gay, IDEA
The market research company, Navigant Research, released a report on October 31 predicting a strong increase in spending on military microgrids. The report, called Military Microgrids, forecasts that Department of Defense (DoD) spending on microgrids and microgrid implementation will grow from $453.4 million in 2017 to $1.4 billion in 2026.
Navigant’s bullish forecast seems to be based on an acknowledgement by the DoD that microgrids can be part of the solution to deliver energy security. US military operations as a whole are the single largest consumer of petroleum in the world. Much of the fossil fuels that DoD operations consume are imported, with a portion coming from countries or regions hostile to US interests.
This situation is untenable, even before one considers the DoD’s carbon emissions. It is especially telling that even during a period of sustained low prices, the DoD is thinking of ways to diminish its reliance on fossil fuels. One way to reduce dependence is to better integrate local fuel sources and renewable resources into base fuel mixes. Microgrids can help can help integrate these resources and can also allow each base to continue operations when the larger grid is down or fuel deliveries are cut.
Important to the argument for increased spending are the savings microgrids could deliver. The DoD currently spends $4 billion on energy across its 523 installations and 280,000 buildings each year. Navigant predicts savings between $8 and $20 billion over the next 20 years if the DoD shifts from backup diesel generators to large-scale microgrids.
But the military microgrid market must overcome several challenges to realize its full potential. Navigant highlights three in particular that could slow growth; namely, a lack of strategic planning for onsite power generation, the lack of integrated policies on renewables and resiliency and the unique contracting hurdles for determining cost-effective microgrids. Several IDEA members are listed by the report as key industry players in the effort, including Ameresco, Burns & McDonnell, Siemens and Schneider Electric.
IDEA hopes to play a constructive role in promoting growth of military microgrids beginning by co-sponsoring a December 5-6, 2017 workshop at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington DC titled “Energy Planning for Resilient Military Installations” with the DoD and others. The goals of this workshop are to build connections across different sectors, hone best practices for energy, microgrid and resiliency planning, and share knowledge on implementation techniques. Numerous IDEA member systems with operational campus energy microgrids will be sharing their experience with Federal agencies. A few opportunities remain for sponsored table tops at a reception and networking event on the evening of December 5 at the nearby Institute of Peace. Please contact IDEA if you would like to attend the workshop or view the IDEA website for more information.