Defense Energy

Sandia’s world-class technologies, experience, software, and facilities provide support to military customers to address and solve national security energy needs.

Working with the DOE and DoD to Enhance National Energy Security

A view of Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan from the Air Traffic Control Tower's catwalk after a recent rainstorm. (photo by Staff Sgt. Craig Seals)

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to collaborate on developing energy technologies to meet future needs of the DoD and the country. Quoting from the MOU:

“The purpose of this Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is…to strengthen coordination of efforts to enhance national energy security, and demonstrate federal Government leadership in transitioning America to a low carbon economy.”

The DOE and DoD recognize the importance and critical role of energy as a mission enabler for their operations at home and abroad. Informed decisions that will guide R&D investments for enhancing energy security and resiliency are the key to our future national security. Sandia has the technology expertise and complex analytics to inform key decisions needed to achieve the greatest benefit for our nation’s energy security and resiliency. Sandia is focused on providing DOE and DoD collaborative R&D to accelerate energy technology transition and commercialization, with the DoD and military services as early adopters for some of their highest priority needs:

  • cyber-secure resilient microgrids
  • energy harvesting
  • thermal management

Research Areas

Sandia combines energy technology R&D with custom modeling, simulation, analysis, and optimization capabilities and tools to provide a unique value to U.S. defense agencies through world-class capabilities, innovative technologies, and proven experience. Sandia has the capabilities to address these defense energy security challenges throughout the technology life cycle, beginning with research, development, and prototyping through the transition to industry and government:

Sandia uses innovative energy technologies to provide energy solutions to our nations defense agencies both at home and abroad, including advanced photovoltaics, concentrated solar power, innovative wind energy, water/wave energy, and advanced energy storage.

  • Distributed Energy Technologies Laboratory (DETL): Conducts research with industry and academic partners to integrate emerging energy technologies into new and existing electricity infrastructures.
  • Photovoltaic Systems Evaluation Laboratory (PSEL): A multi-user, multi-sponsor facility that conducts research in PV cells, modules, and arrays and performs detailed, comprehensive analysis in PV systems design, optimization, and characterization in real-world scenarios. PSEL conducts research on behalf of DOE, DoD, and other customers, often in collaboration with industry/academic partners.
  • Supervisory Control & Data Acquisition (SCADA) Test Bed: Combines state-of-the-art operational system testing facilities with research, development, and training to discover and address critical security vulnerabilities and threats to the energy sector.
  • Scaled Wind Farm Technology (SWiFT) Facility: A unique facility that gives the U.S. an opportunity to address wind farm under performance, much of which can be attributed to turbine-to-turbine interaction.
  • Combustion Research Facility (CRF): An internationally recognized DOE SC-sponsored collaborative research facility. CRF scientists, engineers, and technologists conduct basic and applied research aimed at improving our nation’s ability to use and control combustion processes.

Joint Operational Energy Initiative (JOEI) Modeling, Simulation, & Analysis

JOEI is a partnership between Sandia, the U.S. Army Operational Energy Task Force Program Executive Office Combat Support & Combat Service Support, and the Tank and Automotive Research and Development Engineering Center established to create a holistic approach to evaluate operational energy (OE) technology, systems, and improvements for theater operations.

Challenges of OE include a lack of analytic capabilities to quantify/understand OE impacts of technologies in operational scenarios and limited ability to inform OE R&D investment decisions to reduce logistical & supply chain burdens and improve utilization of resources.

Sandia’s approach was to develop a modeling & simulation framework and toolkit to analyze OE technologies and systems using an integrated, System-of-Systems (SoS) engineering & analysis approach. Sandia’s SoS Analysis Toolset provides scenario-based performance assessments of technology choices using event-driven, reliability-based simulations. The toolset will be used to investigate OE challenges and understand potential technologies that will reduce energy use, extend operational reach, and enhance mission success.

Expeditionary Energy Storage Systems

Sandia, in collaboration with Army Program Manger Force Sustainment Systems and industry, developed and demonstrated a variety of prototype Expeditionary Energy Storage Systems for an experimental Forward Operating Base (FOB), Base Camp Integration Laboratory (BCIL) at Fort Devens, MA. Testing and evaluations were conducted to determine suitability and appropriate applications. The objective was to increase the reliability and quality of the power and energy required for FOB operations while decreasing overall fuel consumption. Preliminary testing of the Expeditionary Energy Storage Systems was performed at Sandia’s Distributed Energy Testing Laboratory to determine reliability and operation. Energy storage systems were then transitioned to BCIL for installation and further testing.

Smart Power Infrastructure Demonstration for Energy, Reliability, and Security (SPIDERS)

SPIDERS, winner of the Joint Capability and Technology Demonstration (JCTD) Project of the Year in 2015, is a JCTD project between the Department of Energy, Department of Defense, and Department of Homeland Security to demonstrate that microgrids have the ability to maintain operational surety through secure, reliable, and resilient electric power generation and distribution to mission critical loads. The project benefits include improved reliability, increased endurance for backup energy during outages, improved maintenance capabilities, reduced operational risk, flexible energy service support, improved energy situational awareness, and reduced energy costs. Three SPIDERS Microgrids have been installed at Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickham, Fort Carson, and Camp Smith. This project involved the collaboration of government, industry, and five national laboratories.

Marine Corps Power and Energy Modeling Simulation and Optimization

Under sponsorship of the DoD, United States Marine Corps (USMC) Energy Expeditionary Office (E2O), Sandia was tasked to determine energy performance impacts of the USMC current and anticipated Expeditionary Energy (E2) investments on future Marine deployments and identify the optimal portfolio mix of generators and technology improvements that will best satisfy future USMC power and energy needs for expeditionary operations. Efforts over three years resulted in development of an extensive set of SoS energy performance models ranging in size from a company to a full marine expeditionary brigade (MEB). These scenario-based discrete-event models provided energy performance information to support acquisition decisions. The models included treatment of system interdependencies, logistics, reliability, and combat damage. In addition, a comprehensive set of hybrid power and microgrid optimization models, including Mobile Electric Hybrid Power Sources (MEHPS), were developed using the Sandia-developed Microgrid Design Tool to help inform decision makers on future energy technology investments and energy portfolio mix decisions. Additional delivered and vetted data products included a comprehensive USMC equipment energy data base, MEB and Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) equipment density lists, and a complete set of unit-specific MEB and MEU load profiles. The year-end reports provide full documentation of the work accomplished, the models, assumptions, analyses, results and data products.

Marine Corps Water Energy Nexus for USMC Expeditionary Energy Office

Sandia is providing the USMC robust modeling, simulation, and analysis tools to inform and prioritize energy-related investments across the Future Years Defense Program (FYDP). The overall motivation of this work is to understand the interrelationship and trade-offs between battlefield water production and distribution and the 1st and 2nd order impacts of these trades on energy/fuel consumption. The models, analyses, and results that will be developed during this effort will provide quantitative information about the SoS-wide impacts and 2nd order effects of deploying new water-saving and energy-saving technologies. The developed models and results will provide USMC decision makers with quantitative information that characterizes the interrelationships between scenario-based, deployed energy, water and vehicle systems. Deliverables and products include a holistic set of system of systems analyses and trade studies to include technology performance and investment decision modeling and analysis; objective impact assessments of new energy and water related technology solution sets; and evaluation of technology sets on operational effectiveness.

Army Contingency Base Initiative

A model based systems engineering approach has been used to effectively address the complexity and inter-dependencies of the various functional areas, systems, and required capabilities for a family of contingency bases.  A SoS modeling, simulation, and analysis approach has been employed and used in order to better understand the complexity of the interactions of functions, capabilities, enabling systems and system of systems that comprise a current contingency base. Using a model based systems engineering approach, the Contingency Basing Community of Practice can develop alternative solution sets that could be implemented to transform current contingency basing into more adaptive and efficient force projection platforms that can provide a full spectrum of operations in various environments and scenarios.

Advanced Microgrids to Enhance Energy Security and Mission Assurance

Sandia developed the Energy Security Assessment Methodology through significant internal investment over the last seven years. During that time, Sandia has teamed with the US Army Corps of Engineer’s Construction Engineering Research Laboratory (CERL) to improve the utilization of the methodology and the associated assessment and advanced microgrid design tools.  Sandia continues to support state and federal agencies, including DOE, DoD, DHS, and Department of State to work with military bases, utility and community leaders, and international customers to evaluate, design, test, and implement advanced microgrids that provide safe, reliable, and secure and resilient power for site-specific critical missions and critical infrastructure services.

Tool for Siting, Planning, and Encroachment Analysis for Renewables (TSPEAR)

TSPEAR is currently designed to support wind energy developers as well as their government agency counterparts assess proposed wind energy projects. To date, TSPEAR efforts have been solely on addressing the wind turbine-radar interference issue using a publicly available site that employs NOAA’s weather radars.

Solar Glare Hazard Analysis Tool (SGHAT)

With growing numbers of solar energy systems being proposed and installed throughout the United States, the potential impact of glint and glare from photovoltaic modules, concentrating solar collectors, receivers, and other components is receiving increased attention as a potential hazard or distraction for pilots, air-traffic control personnel, motorists, and residents. Visual impairment can be mitigated by thoughtful application of analytical tools. Traditionally, glare hazards are analyzed in terms of the geometry of the proposed solar installation relative to key observation points. However, such geometric methods fail to provide an indication of the intensity of the reflected light or the potential ocular impacts. Sandia developed SGHAT v. 3.0, a free, web-based tool and methodology that features automated optimization to select PV configurations (tilt and orientation) that mitigate glare while maximizing annual energy production. The built-in flight path tool has been enhanced to evaluate continuous flight paths rather than discrete points along a flight path. It also has the ability to analyze glare from vertical surfaces, such as glass buildings. The calculations and methods are based on analyses, test data, a database of different photovoltaic module surfaces (e.g. anti-reflective coating, texturing), and models developed over several years at Sandia to evaluate ocular hazards. The results are presented in a simple easy-to-interpret plot that specifies when glare will occur throughout the year, with color indicating the potential ocular hazard.

Deployable Wind Turbine Analysis and Decision Tool for Contingency Basing

Small, highly energy intensive contingency bases rely on an inefficient and volatile energy source. In Afghanistan, attacks on resupply missions to these outposts represented a significant percentage of the injury and death rate for U.S. troops. Sandia’s goal is to support DoD initiatives to hedge reliance on these volatile fuel sources through addition to and diversification of renewable energy sources available to meet the military needs, reducing outside risks for soldiers. Wind turbines specifically purposed for contingency bases can effectively supplement diesel generators. Adding wind energy to the base energy portfolio enables renewable energy generation at night and on cloudy days. Existing turbines are not designed to operate within the constraints of a base and a customized design can reduce the high diesel transport costs and frequency at these bases.


Sandia utilizes a “best of breed” approach to bring our customers the most knowledgeable and capable team to address energy challenges. We partner with and support U.S. government agencies, other national laboratories, and commercial organizations to create a robust and complete team. Learn more about partnering with Sandia.

Steven Glover

(505) 845-9620