The US military has set a renewable energy goal of achieving 25 percent of energy production from renewable sources by 2025. However, only a small fraction of domestic military sites have fortified PV microgrids or plans to implement them, leaving the majority vulnerable to long-term power disruptions. Currently, most military backup systems rely on generators, which are also susceptible to fuel supply disruptions.
Implementing PV-powered microgrids would significantly enhance the military’s energy security. Such microgrids provide flexibility, enabling power generation to continue even if distribution fails, thus ensuring critical infrastructure’s performance and reducing the risk of cascading failures. Solar energy is particularly suitable for powering microgrids due to its decreasing costs and widespread availability.
The research team evaluated the technical and economic feasibility of supplying critical infrastructure with 100 percent solar power through hybrid microgrid systems with storage. They found that the military alone would require 17 gigawatts of solar power, which is feasible given the existing technical skills and resources available from top defense contractors.
Despite the significant national security risk posed by electrical grid failures, policy addressing this issue has been limited. The military has a renewable energy policy, and integrating microgrids with PV technology could enhance local resilience and serve as a security measure for various levels of critical infrastructure beyond military bases.
The first step in combatting power grid failures is recognizing the need to implement PV-powered microgrids in domestic military bases, eventually extending this approach to military sites abroad and other critical infrastructure sectors. This move towards renewable energy not only improves national security but also accelerates technology development.