Last week, the Navy got its first ever solar powered electric vehicle charging station, serving as another demonstration of a slow but steady transition out of petroleum dependency by the US military. The Navy has also moved forward with a contract to replace a 1950’s era coal fired power plant at its Indian Head, Maryland base, which is the very last coal power plant located at a Navy facility in the US.
Although solar EV chargers are becoming more relevant in the mainstream of public fueling availability, they are still a rarity at military facilities. The Navy chose carefully when placing its first solar EV charging station at Naval Support Activity Mid-South in Millington, Tennessee. The base serves as the Navy’s Human Resources Center for Excellence and seems to be an ideal ambassador for introducing new technology to both military and civilian sectors. Mid-South has also been recognized by the state with the Governor’s Quality Commitment Award and the Greater Memphis Association for Quality Leadership Award. Its stated goal is “to become the Navy’s premiere support installation by striving to maintain excellence in our facilities and services.” This EV charging station will produce enough electricity to give Mid-South’s fleet of 17 EVs a four-hour charge, with enough left over to sell back to the grid.
Mid-South is actually just one of a total of nine Navy sites that are getting solar carports under the same $10 million contract, which also includes E85 fueling stations. In addition, the Navy is also heavily invested in alternative energy research, including microbial fuel cells, advanced photovoltaics, and wave power. The old coal power plant located at Indian Head is set to be replaced in 2016 by a new gas-fired and heat recovery system next year, under a $68 million contract awarded last September. The Navy expects to save $7.5 million annually by switching to natural gas. The modernization will also cut energy use by 50 percent, cut water consumption by 75 percent, and cut steam usage by 80 percent.
Source: First Navy Solar EV Charging Station Opens, Last Coal Power Plant Closes, by Tina Casey, June 3, 2013