Solar Is ‘Low-Hanging Fruit’ For Texas Army National Guard

Posted by Joseph Bebon on August 26, 2016 No Comments
Categories : New & Noteworthy

The Texas Army National Guard has released an analysis that maps the potential for renewable energy and water stress at the majority of its Texas facilities, overlapping that data with energy use and costs. The study, funded by Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and executed by CNA Analysis & Solutions, reveals there is significant potential for the Guard to save money and water by increasing renewable energy and energy efficiency.

In Texas and around the country, the U.S. Department of Defense is pursuing renewable energy to improve resilience to power outages and reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. The Texas Army National Guard has implemented renewable energy initiatives at several of its facilities, and this assessment aimed to identify those with the best potential for developing additional capacity.

“This analysis will be instrumental in helping the Texas National Guard prioritize renewable energy and water conservation projects at our facilities throughout the state,” says Brian Stevens, Energy Manager, Construction and Facilities Management Office, Texas Military Department.

Out of 77 Guard facilities across the state, the study examined the 60 that have purchasing power over their energy choices, ranking them by greatest potential for solar, wind, and geothermal. It found 22 sites have high potential for solar, 23 have high potential for wind, and the use of geothermal energy for heating and cooling is essentially unlimited. The analysis also cites the low cost of energy efficiency and the potential to deploy efficiency measures at all locations.

Moreover, the study assessed future water stress for each facility, assuming continued growth in water demand in Texas, as well as a moderate climate change scenario. The study found Texas will face increased water supply stress and possibly more frequent problems with power supply as a result. Traditional power resources, including coal, natural gas, and nuclear, require huge amounts of water to produce electricity, while solar panels, wind turbines, and energy efficiency require little to none.

“With increasing water stress already here or looming on the horizon, now is the time for the Texas Army National Guard to invest in clean energy solutions that use little to no water,” says Kate Zerrenner, manager of energy-water initiatives for EDF. “The study shows many facilities are ripe for safeguarding water supplies through low-hanging fruit like solar panels and energy efficiency. The Texas Army National Guard now possesses a powerful weapon in its arsenal: the information it needs to pursue clean energy as a strategy for a reliable water future.”

The analysis also ranked each facility by electricity price, demonstrating that many experience costs above the state’s average. EDF says this finding presents a clear opportunity to seek new ways to lower power costs. By overlapping that data with renewable potential and water stress, the Guard can use the study to pinpoint the most cost-effective facilities for clean energy.

For example, the Fort Bliss Readiness Center in El Paso has the third-highest electricity use, highest solar potential, most extreme category of future water stress, and one of the highest electricity prices. All of these factors combined indicate the Fort Bliss Readiness Center would be well-suited for targeted energy efficiency and solar deployment to reduce water demand and electric bills.

Lowering costs through clean energy investment will ensure the Guard can devote more financial resources to critical needs, like training and equipment, rather than high electricity bills. Moreover, although the study was specific to the Army branch, the results can help inform investment decisions for the entire Texas National Guard.

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