NextEra to supply US Navy with 17MW of Hawaii PV

NextEra Energy Resources will begin construction in February of 17MW of PV facilities in Hawaii for the US Navy, part of the service’s transformation away from carbon-intensive energy sources to cleaner ones.

A unit of NextEra will build one ground-mounted fixed-tilt PV array, and three carport and 10 rooftop solar systems. They will be comprised of 71,000 Sharp solar modules and reach full operation by the end of 2016.

The Navy will purchase all of the power under a 25-year agreement. NextEra will own and operate the solar facilities.

Each branch of the US military has made commitments to procure and produce 1GW of renewable energy at their permanent installations (and/or on 65,000 sq km of Department of Defense land opened up for development). The Navy expects to reach that target later this decade.

The Pentagon envisages renewables – and technologies that can leverage them, such as advanced microgrids and storage – playing a key part of its comprehensive strategy to increase security of power supply, and reduce energy costs and consumption.

The Navy is “changing the way we do business” when it comes to energy and “technology is clearly part of it,” Assistant Secretary of the Navy-Energy Joe Bryan told a defense innovation and energy conference in Austin, Texas, on Tuesday.

The service branch has been aggressively contracting for mainly solar power with private developers for its US bases and installations along the east and west coasts, and Hawaii.  These deals are also a hedge in case of local grid malfunction.

Bryan noted that renewables provide the Navy with more operational flexibility by lessening dependence on fossil fuels, and it expects to see solar panels become more efficient as technology advances.