Vulnerabilities in the power grid are one of the most prevalent national security threats. The technical community has called for building up the resiliency of the grid using distributed energy and microgrids for stabilization. Power production from multiple sources increases the difficulty of triggering cascading blackouts, and following an attack or natural disaster, microgrids can provide localized energy security.
In a new paper published in Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews (DOI: 10.1016/j.rser.2017.04.094), an interdisciplinary team of engineering and energy policy experts from Michigan Technological University says the first step is to outfit military infrastructure with solar photovoltaic (PV)-powered microgrid systems. Their results found that the military needs 17 gigawatts of PV to fortify domestic bases—the systems are technically feasible, within current contractors’ skill sets and economically favorable.
Additionally, the paper's lead author, Emily Prehoda, who is finishing her PhD in energy policy at Michigan Tech, says boosting bases' energy independence supports local communities.
"I come from a military-oriented family, so for me the military is important to bridge the technical capacities and policies to trickle down to other critical infrastructure and services," Prehoda says. "This is such a huge issue, not only for the military but for other organizations, and it hits from all different sides, from the technical, economic and social—and it leads back to the idea of security."
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