Fort Bragg training site is DOD’s first to get floating solar panels

CAMP MACKALL – The largest floating solar power plant in the Southeast was unveiled Friday at Camp Mackall.

Camp Mackall is a special forces training site overseen by Fort Bragg.

The 1.1 megawatt floating solar system is located on approximately 2.5 surface acres of Camp Mackall’s Big Muddy Lake.

“This is the first solar panel in the entire Department of Defense, which is saying a lot, because I can tell you there is a healthy competition between the departments to be the first in innovative technologies,” said said Rachel Jacobson, assistant secretary of the Army for installations. , energy and environment.

Rachel Jacobson, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy, and the Environment, makes remarks during the reveal of the completion of a floating solar panel project Friday, June 10, 2022, at Big Muddy Lake on Camp Mackall.

The project, which is a collaboration between Fort Bragg, Duke Energy and Ameresco, is consistent with the Army’s recently released climate strategy that has moved toward energy-resilient facilities, Jacobson said.

“Why did we do this – energy and climate are directly related to mission and preparedness,” she said. “To lose training time due to power outages resulting from severe storms is simply unacceptable.”

How the solar panels will be used

Audrey Oxendine, head of Fort Bragg’s energy and utilities branch, said the floating solar panels “feed the grid” on a clear day, which means Fort Bragg will buy less electricity.

During storms that cause power outages, the panels would be Camp Mackall’s primary power sources, Oxendine said.

Previous report:Southeast’s Largest Floating Solar Plant Coming to Fayetteville Area

Col. Scott Pence, Fort Bragg garrison commander, said Camp Mackall and its facilities serve special operations forces, and Camp Mackall airfield is alternate terrain that the 82nd Airborne Division can use when Pope’s army airfield is not available.

He estimated that solar panels could result in annual energy savings of around $100,000.

Solar panels on nearly 2.5 surface acres of Big Muddy Lake at Camp Mackall are part of a clean energy project collaboration between Fort Bragg, Duke Energy and Ameresco and is the first such project for the ministry. of the defense.

Brian Savoy, commercial director of Duke Energy, said the 1.1 megawatt solar panels produced enough energy to power 735 homes.

The solar panels should last between 35 and 40 years, he said.

Savoy said it was a step towards cleaner, carbon-free energy.

“Sometimes our government leads the way on how we should think about energy and resilience, and Fort Bragg is really a model,” he said.

The environmental Protection

Representatives from Fort Bragg, Duke Energy and Ameresco reveal the completion of a floating solar panel project on nearly 2 surface acres of Big Muddy Lake at Camp Mackall during a ceremony Friday, June 10, 2022.

Nicole Bulgarino, executive vice president of Ameresco, said that because the panels are on the water, no trees were cut and land was not disturbed for the project.

Jacobson said placing it on the water also means the red cockade’s habitat is preserved.

Had it been built on land, it would have taken up about 8 acres that could be better used for training, Jacobson said.

Cooler water temperatures also mean more energy will be produced, Bulgarino said.

The equipment adapts to rising or falling water levels and means officials won’t have to worry about it being in a floodplain, Bulgarino said.

Savoy said the docks are reinforced and designed to withstand high winds.

More projects

Solar panels on nearly 2 surface acres of Big Muddy Lake at Camp Mackall are part of a clean energy project collaboration between Fort Bragg, Duke Energy and Ameresco and is the first such project for the Department of Defense.

Pence said the solar panel project is one of five initiatives in a 2020 utility contract that will see investments of $36 million over 19 years.

Other projects in the contract include replacing diesel heating with natural gas for approximately $270,000 in annual savings, using energy-efficient lighting for $500,000 in annual savings, and using a high-efficiency water system for toilets and sinks to save $1.2 per year.

The contract includes infrastructure upgrades with lighting and water upgrades, HVAC and boiler upgrades, and the installation of high-efficiency dehumidification systems throughout. barracks and work areas to prevent mold growth.

Writer Rachael Riley can be reached at [email protected] or 910-486-3528.

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