Navy Adds New DC Solar Facility in Virginia Beach

Entering into a 37-year agreement with Dominion Virginia Power, the Department of the Navy (DoN) recently announced plans for a 21 MW direct current, or DC solar facility in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Following closely on the heels of a 10-year purchase contract for 25 MW DC for Naval Station Norfolk, the new DC solar facility will be constructed on Naval Air Station (NAS) Oceana.

NAS Oceana Investing in New 21 MW DC Solar Facility

The new 21 MW DC solar facility at NAS Oceana is scheduled to be operational by late 2017. Dominion Virginia Power will own, operate, and maintain the facility. NAS Oceana will receive in-kind consideration in the form of upgrades to the electrical infrastructure in exchange for Dominion’s use of DoN land.

Dominion Chairman, President, and CEO Thomas F. Farrell, II, offered his company’s thanks to the Department of the Navy for their partnership on the important DC solar installation. Farrell noted, “This collaboration shares common goals–investing in the growth of renewable energy and helping to make the military’s energy supply more secure.”

DC Solar facilities on Navy installations will promote enhanced energy security and environmental sustainability. Credit: US Navy Photo by Clark Pierce/Released
DC Solar facilities on Navy installations will promote enhanced energy security and environmental sustainability. Credit: US Navy Photo by Clark Pierce/Released

Renewable Energy Projects are “Win-Win-Win Collaborations”

The Navy Region Mid-Atlantic Commander, Rear Admiral Jack Scorby, Jr., states, “Renewable energy projects, like the one at NAS Oceana and others throughout the Mid-Atlantic Region, are win-win-win collaborations. They’re good for the utility companies, good for our installations and good for the communities surrounding our installations.”

Captain Louis J. Schager, Jr., NAS Oceana’s Commanding Officer highlights the new DC solar facility’s value for the air station and the local community. “We have a great relationship with the surrounding community,” states Captain Schager, “and by hosting this facility we are helping to make the regional grid more diverse and, therefore, more resilient.”

US DoN REPO project map
US DoN REPO project map. Credit: US DoN

DoN Energy Goals are “About More Than Just Fuel”

Ray Mabus, US Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV), opened the Renewable Energy Program Office (REPO) in May 2014 to fulfill DoN renewable energy goals and priorities. REPO is the central management office identifying and overseeing cost-effective renewable energy projects for DoN installations.

The overarching goal of REPO is to produce 50 percent of DoN energy needs from renewable sources by 2020. Three models are being employed for DoN renewable energy projects, including:

Model 1: Off-base generation for on-base consumption

  • ƒDoN purchases new renewable energy generation for on-base load
  • ƒRenewable energy generation provides price stability and diversifies energy portfolio
  • Acquisition: Power purchase agreement and utility service contract

Model 2: On-base generation for off-base consumption

  • ƒA Third party produces on DoN property & exports energy to grid
  • ƒDoN has potential to receive energy security via lease terms
  • Real estate outgrant

Model 3: On-base generation for on-base consumption

  • ƒDoN consumes all energy generated
  • ƒPotential opportunity to increase energy security through microgrid integration
  • Acquisition: Power purchase agreement and real estate outgrant

Collaborating with Industry is Proving Successful

Collaborating with industry is proving very successful. Renewable energy projects are supporting DoN alternative energy resource availability, promoting operational capabilities, and increasing strategic flexibility.

Focusing on integrating renewables into installation electrical grids helped support DoN short-term goals of producing 500 MW by December 2014, and another 500 MW by the end of 2015.

Having surpassed its 2015 one-gigawatt procurement goal, the US Navy is now exploring additional energy technology advances. These include microgrids, battery storage, and fuel cells to further enhance energy security.

The Critical Role of Energy Security

“Bottom line,” notes Captain Schager, “this project will advance our mission to support the fleet while benefitting our Navy family as well as the community.”

Rear Adm. Scorby confirms, “These projects increase the energy security, energy diversity and energy resiliency of our bases. Energy security, or having assured access to reliable supplies of energy and the ability to protect and deliver sufficient energy to meet mission-essential requirements, is critical to our installations’ roles to support the Fleet.”

solar carports at Naval Base San Diego. Credit: US Navy photo (Released)
Solar carports deployed at Naval Base San Diego to help support the Fleet. Credit: US Navy photo (Released)

 

FYI – NAS Oceana is a popular annual venue for the famed Blue Angels, the Navy’s awesome flight demonstration squadron. With top-notch aviators selected from both the Navy and the Marines, the Blue Angels have performed for more than 484 million fans since 1946. The 70th anniversary Blue Angels Air Show will be held at NAS Oceana on September 10 and 11, 2016. (Don’t live near Virginia Beach, VA? Check the listings for other US locations and dates.)

The Blue Angels take off at the NAS Oceana Air Show. US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Andrea Perez/Released
The Blue Angels take off at the NAS Oceana Air Show. Credit: US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Andrea Perez/Released






About the Author

Aisha Abdelhamid is a freelance lifestyle and environmental science writer currently living in Vancouver, BC. Her interests include environmental conservation, climate science, renewable energy, faith-based environmental activism, green building, creative lifestyles, and healthy living.