In the largest renewable energy purchase ever made by the federal government, the Navy just agreed to build a 210 megawatt direct current solar facility in Phoenix, Ariz.
To put that wattage in perspective, the Solar Energy Industries Association gives the national average of households powered by 1 megawatt of solar energy as 164, or roughly the population equivalent of Duluth, Minn. Instead of juicing Bob Dylan’s hometown, the Sempra U.S. Gas & Power facility’s 650,000 panels will run current to 14 Navy and Marine Corps installations in California by the end of 2016.
The Navy’s been doubling down on solar lately, with a plan to build solar panels for parking lots at the Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling installation in Southeast D.C. and, more impressively, a 42 megawatt large-scale solar generation farm at a Naval Submarine Base in Kings Bay. But nothing is on the scale of this Arizona plan.
Going forward, the military is likely to be a leader on renewable energy because it is in the best interest of the armed forces to limit their reliance on anything and anyone that isn’t the armed forces. The sun is a more reliable ally than any of our oil-rich friends and, sadly, considerably more likely to stick around in California than most rivers.