U.S. Army Won’t Be Left in the Dark Ever Again

The Army has a three-step plan to make sure its bases never go dark again.

Aug 23, 2014 at 10:26AM

Energy security is a priority for the U.S. Army, as many of its installations are at the end of the power line. These bases stand to lower power if anything happens to the electric grid. This has been an increasing concern for the Army, which has seen a four-fold increase in power disruptions over the last decade. There is also a real worry that cyberthreats to the power grid could impact the Army's ability to keep its bases up and running. In the face of these threats, the Army is enacting a three-step program of on-site renewable generation, microgrids, and energy storage to help ensure its bases never go dark again.

Sunlight keeps the Army from going dark
The Army has found that putting power on its bases relieves the stress on transmission lines and improves energy security at the installation. The one power source found to be critical in improving base security is solar. Most Army bases typically have large buffer zones that can be turned into power sources by having solar panels installed. 

One example of how the Army is using solar can be found in Georgia. Georgia Power, a subsidiary of Southern Company (NYSE:SO), is installing 30-megawatt solar photovoltaic arrays at three Army bases in what is called the Georgia 3x30 project. Once complete, the project will bring the Army 9% closer to its goal to deploy one gigawatt of renewable energy by 2025, and it will supply 18% of the Army's energy needs in Georgia. Overall, the Army expects to complete more than 500 new solar projects in the coming years as it brings the power it needs on-site.

Solar Microgrid

Solar microgrid project at Fort Hunter Liggett in California. Source: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Flickr page.

Microgrids keep critical infrastructure running
The Army sees microgrids as the second phase of its energy security plan, as these allow it to distribute power to its most critical infrastructure first. Microgrids give the Army much more control over how energy is distributed throughout its bases.

One example is at Fort Bliss, Texas. The microgrid, which was installed by Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT), integrates renewable energy, local power, energy storage, and load management to all but guarantee that the critical operations of the base will have uninterrupted power even in bad weather conditions.

Tactical Microgrid

Tactical microgrid. Sources: Flickr/U.S. Army RDECOM.

Energy storage enhances base security
The third phase of the Army's energy security plan is energy storage. This lowers the cost of energy and maintains a steady stream of energy. These systems also store energy to help the Army meet peak demand periods.

Fort Bliss is again a great example of how the Army is using energy storage. Not only does the base have on-site backup power generation provided by diesel generators to go along a 120-kilowatt solar array, but it also houses a 300-kilowatt energy storage system. One component, supplied by a subcontractor of Lockheed Martin, consists of a 20-foot containerized system that includes a 100-kilowatt grid-tied inverter and a number of advanced lead-acid batteries.

Lockheed Martin is working on three future energy storage technologies: next-generation Li-ion batteries, supercapacitors, and flow batteries. Its next generation Li-ion batteries have more capacity and are lighter in weight, while supercapacitors charge fast and last for an extended period, and flow batteries can store hours of power. These technologies have the potential to be an important part of the Army's future energy storage solutions. They also have possibilities in transportation, renewable energy, and consumer electronics, which could make the grid as a whole much more stable.

Final thoughts
The Army's three-phase plan to improve its energy security will go a long way toward ensuring the critical operations of its installations never go dark again. That's increasingly important in a world where cyberattacks on the power grid are a growing concern. By securing its bases now, the Army won't be hampered in its ability to defend the nation if the grid goes down. 

Leaked: Apple's next smart device (warning, it may shock you)
Apple recently recruited a secret-development "dream team" to guarantee its newest smart device was kept hidden from the public for as long as possible. But the secret is out, and some early viewers are claiming its everyday impact could trump the iPod, iPhone, and the iPad. In fact, ABI Research predicts 485 million of this type of device will be sold per year. But one small company makes Apple's gadget possible. And its stock price has nearly unlimited room to run for early in-the-know investors. To be one of them, and see Apple's newest smart gizmo, just click here!

Matt DiLallo owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool recommends Apple and Southern Company. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and Lockheed Martin. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

4 in 5 Americans Are Ignoring Buffett's Warning

Don't be one of them.

Jun 12, 2015 at 5:01PM

Admitting fear is difficult.

So you can imagine how shocked I was to find out Warren Buffett recently told a select number of investors about the cutting-edge technology that's keeping him awake at night.

This past May, The Motley Fool sent 8 of its best stock analysts to Omaha, Nebraska to attend the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder meeting. CEO Warren Buffett and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger fielded questions for nearly 6 hours.
The catch was: Attendees weren't allowed to record any of it. No audio. No video. 

Our team of analysts wrote down every single word Buffett and Munger uttered. Over 16,000 words. But only two words stood out to me as I read the detailed transcript of the event: "Real threat."

That's how Buffett responded when asked about this emerging market that is already expected to be worth more than $2 trillion in the U.S. alone. Google has already put some of its best engineers behind the technology powering this trend. 

The amazing thing is, while Buffett may be nervous, the rest of us can invest in this new industry BEFORE the old money realizes what hit them.

KPMG advises we're "on the cusp of revolutionary change" coming much "sooner than you think."

Even one legendary MIT professor had to recant his position that the technology was "beyond the capability of computer science." (He recently confessed to The Wall Street Journal that he's now a believer and amazed "how quickly this technology caught on.")

Yet according to one J.D. Power and Associates survey, only 1 in 5 Americans are even interested in this technology, much less ready to invest in it. Needless to say, you haven't missed your window of opportunity. 

Think about how many amazing technologies you've watched soar to new heights while you kick yourself thinking, "I knew about that technology before everyone was talking about it, but I just sat on my hands." 

Don't let that happen again. This time, it should be your family telling you, "I can't believe you knew about and invested in that technology so early on."

That's why I hope you take just a few minutes to access the exclusive research our team of analysts has put together on this industry and the one stock positioned to capitalize on this major shift.

Click here to learn about this incredible technology before Buffett stops being scared and starts buying!

David Hanson owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and American Express. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway, Google, and Coca-Cola.We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

©1995-2014 The Motley Fool. All rights reserved. | Privacy/Legal Information