The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colo., says it is working with the U.S. Army to develop the Consolidated Utility Base Energy (CUBE) system, a solar, battery and generator hybrid power system that provides electricity to forward operating bases (FOBs).
Military requirements for electricity at FOBs, which are often in disputed or enemy territory, has proven to be a promising application for solar power. Experimental solar-battery-generator systems deployed by the U.S. Marines in Afghanistan have reduced the need for diesel fuel to make electricity at its FOBs from 25 gallons a day to as low as two.
Under a research agreement with Wyle Labs, the Army is funding NREL to complete a prototype CUBE system and validate its performance, reliability, and projected fuel savings through a fully integrated test at the new Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF), a research center focused on clean energy grid integration and wide-scale deployment.
‘The research at ESIF will help refine the pathways for the successful integration of high penetration distributed resources including renewables and energy efficiency across a wide spectrum of technologies," NREL Director Dan Arvizu says." We're looking forward to working side-by-side with industry, academia and other agencies to have a transformative impact on our energy systems.’
A recent industry report says solar power systems integrated with energy storage could create a $2.8 billion market over the next five years.
U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz dedicated the ESIF during a visit on Sept. 11. Moniz and Arvizu also used the opportunity to unveil Peregrine – the newest Department of Energy supercomputer – at the lab. NREL collaborated with Hewlett Packard and Intel to develop the system, which has the ability to perform 1.2 quadrillion calculations per second at peak performance.