The U.S. Army will begin construction this week at Fort Huachuca, Arizona on the U.S. Department of Defense's largest solar project to date. When completed in late 2014, the solar array will be able to generate 25 percent of the base's electricity needs.
"Energy is an installation priority," Maj. Gen. Robert Ashley, Fort Huachuca commanding general, said in a press release. "The project goes beyond the megawatts produced. It reflects our continued commitment to southern Arizona and energy security. The project will provide reliable access to electricity for daily operations and missions moving forward."
DoD is the largest single user of energy in the world. While much of that energy comes in the form of liquid fuel to power the military's ships, planes, and armored vehicles, DoD still owns and operates a vast amount of buildings that require electricity. DoD operates around 300,000 buildings that account for over 2.3 billion square feet – a footprint three times larger than Walmart. The U.S. Army is the largest user of "installation energy" – energy used on military bases – of all the military branches, accounting for 36 percent of the total.
The U.S. Army plans to install one gigawatt of renewable energy on its bases by 2025, one of the goals that DoD set out in 2012 when it committed to having 3 gigawatts up and running by then across all branches of the military. DoD is also required by the National Defense Authorization Act of 2007 to obtain 25 percent of its electricity needs from renewable sources by 2025. The Fort Huachuca solar project is intended to help the U.S. Army meet this requirement.
The 18-megawatt project will be constructed by E.ON Power, but will be owned and operated by Tucson Electric Power.