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Energy and ClimateEnergy InfrastructureEnergy AssuranceApplying Energy Surety to Military Bases

Applying Energy Surety to Military Bases

Applying Energy Surety to Military Bases

Sandia’s battery storage capability. Energy storage is an integral part of the Energy Surety Microgrid

A Sandia research team is applying a Labs-developed energy surety model to U.S. military bases. The team, working with the DOE and DoD, is looking at how military bases can improve energy generation and transmission through a new system called Energy Surety Migrogrids™.

In today’s grid system, power generators [coal, nuclear, gas] are located far from the load — the place where people live, work, and use power. This requires much distributed wiring and has a potential for power disruption. What the Sandia team envisions for military bases is an energy surety system that uses more small, renewable, and distributed generation and storage nearer the load, referred to as a microgrid, with less reliance on generation from big power plants.

Using a microgrid approach, these bases can operate with or without the grid, in either an “islanded” or a grid-tied configuration.   This allows a number of cost savings as well as energy reliability and energy security advantages over the traditional use of building-dedicated backup generators.  In addition to being smaller, the power generation used would integrate a diversified fuel mix, including secure on-site fuel storage with newer renewable and sustainable energy technologies. Rush Robinett, senior manager of Sandia’s Energy and Infrastructures Futures Group, says this model is “like back to the future.” Military bases in the past used to generate their own energy in ways similar to those proposed with the microgrid approach, he says. “ But now most military bases are totally dependent on the grid for power.”

The Energy Surety Microgrid for military bases would be an energy system that uses more small generation units and storage near where people live, work, and use power and less reliance on big remote plants. (Graphic by Lisa Sena-Henderson)

Funding for the project comes from the DOE, DoD, and the Sandia Laboratory Directed Research and Development program. The microgrid approach creates an energy systems with high levels of energy surety that must be safe — safely supplying energy to end users; secure — using diversified energy sources under site control; reliable — maintaining power when and where needed for extended periods for critical mission assurance; sustainable — being able to be maintained indefinitely; and cost-effective — producing energy at an acceptable (and preferably lowest) cost.

The current grid system meets some of these criteria, while the proposed microgrid system for military bases can meet all of them.  The team is working with many DoD sites to develop and implement several Energy Surety Microgrid systems at military bases across the country. Several microgrid designs are moving into microgrid construction, demonstration, and teting and evaluation.

The ultimate goal is to have microgrids at  military bases that can support the base in assuring critical mission energy needs for extended periods.  DOE is interested in using the microgrid approach to eventually transition into civilian communities as a way to accelerate the utilization of distribute energy production and the deployment of the Smart Grid.

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