Wednesday, 15 August 2012

U.S. Army opens bids to buy $7 billion in renewable energy
8 Aug 2012

The US Army is looking for a few good renewable energy projects. Some $7 billion worth. On Tuesday the Army began accepting bids for green energy installations that will be deployed on military bases and facilities across the US The Army will sign contracts to buy the electricity generated by solar, wind, geothermal and biomass projects for up to 30 years. "It is the intent of the government only to purchase the energy that is produced and not to acquire any generation assets", the Army stated in the solicitation. "The contractor shall develop, finance, design, build, operate, own and maintain the energy plant".

In other words, instead of paying the local utility for its electricity, a base would pay a solar power company like SolarCity or Sungevity. That creates business for renewable energy companies as well as economies of scale that in the long run can lower the cost of green power. The program is part of a Department of Defense initiative to meet at least 25% of energy demand on its bases from renewable sources by 2025. The military is also aiming its bases to become "net zero" consumers of electricity-generating more power than they use by installing solar and other renewable energy systems.

The Army said projects that generate fewer than 4 MWs would be set aside for small businesses. It will also consider giving preference to small businesses for installations that generate between 4 MWs and 12 MWs of electricity but would accept unrestricted bids for projects greater than 12 MWs. Ground-mounted and rooftop solar systems have been built on a number of military bases in recent years and Silicon Valley startup SolarCity is installing photovoltaic panels on 120,000 units of privately managed military housing across the country as part of its SolarStrong initiative. The Army's move follows Monday's announcement that the Department of Defense will open 16 million acres of land in the West for renewable energy development.