Skip to main content

Energy Projects

NREL and the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) work closely together on energy projects that demonstrate and validate energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies, with approaches that can be replicated for broad impact across DOD.

NREL's collaboration with the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the military services helps DOD achieve key energy security goals, while setting the stage for broad market adoption of these technologies.

To learn about NREL's capabilities, contact Stephen Gorin.

Browse examples of NREL's projects with the Department of Defense across military service branches:

Progress on the Army's Road to Net Zero Energy

September 2014 update

A photo of the Fort Dalles Readiness Center with a small creek and new growth vegetation in front of the building and a parking lot to the left background of the creek.

The Fort Dalles Readiness Center, an Oregon Army National Guard facility, was designed with passive energy features including building orientation, daylighting, solar gain, natural ventilation, and airtightness. These passive features are augmented with energy-efficient lighting, selective glazing, system controls, and increased insulation. Photo from Master Sgt. Nick Choy, U.S. Army 1258921

Project Overview
NREL found opportunities to increase energy security at nine Army installations through improved energy efficiency and optimized renewable energy strategies.
LocationsDublin, CA; El Paso, TX; Colorado Springs, CO; Frederick, MD; Jolon, CA; Republic of the Marshall Islands; Oregon; Herlong, CA; West Point, NY
PartnersAssistant Secretary of the Army (Installations, Energy & Environment)and DOE's Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP)
and Efficient
ContactSam Booth

NREL is helping the Army assess and deploy energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies in support of nine Net Zero Energy Installation (NZEI) pilot programs. Energy managers at each Army installation are working to achieve net zero energy use by 2020 by working with NREL to reduce energy consumption and produce as much renewable energy on site as the installation uses over the course of a year. These energy efficiency and renewable energy strategies can be replicated across the DOD and other federal agencies, setting the stage for broad market adoption.

Starting in 2012, NREL began working with the Assistant Secretary of the Army—Installations, Energy, and Environment (ASA-IE&E) and installation energy managers to establish energy baselines, estimate energy efficiency and renewable energy potential, evaluate grid interconnection, and develop energy efficiency and renewable energy project implementation plans. Each of the nine installations is pursuing a unique plan, including these example projects from 2013:

  • Camp Parks Reserve Forces Training Area, California—A 3-year solar cogeneration demonstration project, funded by the Environmental Security Technology Certification Program (ESTCP), was installed on a barracks building and dining facility. The system produces about 3,000 gallons of hot water per day for each building, and if the 3-year demo is successful, the system has the potential for replication within DOD.

  • Fort Bliss, Texas—A proposed 20-MW PV array could reduce Fort Bliss' electricity purchases 15% by 2020. Development discussions are underway between the Fort Bliss net zero energy team and El Paso Electric.

  • Fort Carson, Colorado—A net zero optimization transformed 1950s-era barracks into a modern LEED office building, demonstrating the feasibility of achieving net zero energy performance within the constraints of a retrofit construction project. The project resulted in a 58% reduction in energy use in the building envelope, lighting systems, plug loads, and HVAC systems. Planned rooftop PV will generate additional energy to achieve net zero energy.

  • Fort Detrick, Maryland—A 15-MW PV system funded through a power purchase agreement (PPA) is expected to offset 20% of the installation's electricity load. The project is in the procurement stage.

  • Fort Hunter Liggett, California—A waste-to-energy system that produces synthesis gas (syngas) from the installation's non-recyclable waste will fuel a 425-kW syngas generator set. Currently under construction, the ESTCP-funded demonstration system will help Fort Hunter Liggett achieve net zero waste and contribute to its net zero energy goals.

  • Kwajalein Atoll, Republic of the Marshall Islands—A district chilled water system cooled by deep seawater can reduce installation cooling loads and provide chilled water to facilities throughout the island. The net zero energy team is supporting development of an energy savings performance contract (ESPC) to execute the project.

  • Oregon Army National Guard—Among other statewide energy projects, the new Fort Dalles Readiness Center is designed with low- to no-cost passive energy features including building orientation, daylighting, solar gain, natural ventilation, and airtightness. The efficient building also includes a 90-kW PV system and a 30-36 kW concentrating PV system.

  • Sierra Army Depot, California—A proposed 2.5 MWdc (2 MWac) utility-owned PV system could supply 30% of the installation's electricity (kilowatt-hours). The project is the first of its kind for the Plumas Sierra Rural Electric Cooperative, and success could open the door for additional PV development in the utility's portfolio.

  • U.S. Military Academy West Point, New York—A tri-generation (electricity, heating, and cooling) central energy plant could meet approximately 80% of the projected source energy needs of the garrison. NREL is working with the Army's Construction Engineering Research Laboratory on further evaluations.

Find out more about NREL's work with the Net Zero Energy Installation (NZEI) pilot programs in the report, Army Net Zero Energy Roadmap and Program Summary.

Read feedback and lessons learned from implementing the NZEI pilot program in Army Net Zero: Lessons Learned in Net Zero Energy.

Get practical information for energy managers on six renewable energy technologies and the process for creating a technically and financially sound Army ECIP application: Army Net Zero: Guide to Renewable Energy Conservation Investment Program (ECIP) Projects.

Learn more about NREL's systematic framework for planning energy projects at military installations in the technical report Net Zero Energy Military Installations: A Guide to Assessment and Planning.

Read more in the fact sheet DOE, NREL Help DOD Enhance Energy Security.

Back to Top

Moving Fort Carson Toward Net Zero

August 2014 update

An aerial photo of a large photovoltaic array on desert land with foothills and mountains in the background.

The 2 MW photovoltaic system at U.S. Army Fort Carson. Photo courtesy of U.S. Army Fort Carson

Project Overview
NREL found opportunities to increase energy security at the Army's Fort Carson through improved energy efficiency and optimized renewable energy strategies.
LocationsColorado Springs, CO
PartnersAssistant Secretary of the Army (Installations, Energy & Environment)
and Efficient
Various energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and approaches
ContactKate Anderson, Sam Booth

Due to its leadership in researching, developing, and coordinating energy solutions to power the nation's homes, businesses, and transportation, NREL is strategically positioned to help the Department of Defense accelerate the implementation of its clean energy initiatives. For several years and through multiple agreements, NREL has brought this expertise to its partnership with a Colorado neighbor to the south, Fort Carson, Colorado.

NREL is working with the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment to achieve net zero energy by 2020. Fort Carson volunteered to be an integrated net zero installation, which means they will be net zero energy, net zero water, and net zero waste.

The base's goal is to cut energy intensity 30% from 2003 levels by 2015, striving for a 50% reduction by 2020, in addition to its NZEI goals. Several completed and planned construction projects have included renewable energy technologies such as photovoltaics, solar hot water, ground source heat pumps, and transpired solar walls. NREL has worked with Fort Carson on several key projects, including:

  • Renewable energy potential assessment—One key component of NREL's work was the completion of a Net Zero Environmental Assessment for Net Zero implementation. The assessment evaluated more than a dozen sites on Fort Carson totaling nearly 1,000 acres and documented the concerns and challenges with developing renewable energy for these sites. This assessment will be a valuable tool as the facility moves forward with the evaluation of renewable energy opportunities.

  • Efficient building renovations—Fort Carson is transforming 1950s-era barracks into modern Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-certified office buildings. In partnership with the General Services Administration and the Pacific Northwest National Lab (PNNL), the NREL team researched methods for reducing energy use in new and existing buildings, focusing on optimum building envelopes, daylighting, behavior change impacts, and advanced retrofit strategies for maximum energy reduction. Renovations to date have resulted in reduced energy use in the building envelope, lighting, plug loads, and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, and also added renewable energy generation.

  • Microgrid energy integration—NREL is working with the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers to develop specifications for a system that integrates photovoltaics, plug-in electric vehicles, and a renewable energy management unit with a microgrid system at Fort Carson. During this multi-year project, NREL will develop critical modeling tools to optimize the components needed to link vehicles to the microgrid. A microgrid that integrates renewable generation and vehicle energy storage with load management components offers energy security, cost savings, and reliability benefits. Through the coordination of generators and loads, the Fort Carson microgrid will make it possible to maintain electricity delivery to a portion of the facility that is critical to sustained operations.

NREL works with nine Army pilot projects to establish energy baselines, estimate energy efficiency and alternative energy potential, evaluate grid interconnection, and develop an implementation plan as part of the Army Net Zero Energy Initiative. A net zero energy installation produces as much energy onsite as it uses over the course of a year. Learn more about NREL's work with these nine pilot projects.

The U.S. Army garrison mountain post, established in 1942 outside Colorado Springs, is the second largest employer in the state of Colorado and has a $1.3 billion per year impact on the local economy. The 2-mile wide by 5-mile long post hosts 10,000 soldiers and includes an airfield with six operating gates. In the past 5 years, Fort Carson's building square footage has increased by about 50%, mainly due to the growth of its soldier population. This growth, in combination with aggressive energy goals of DOD and the U.S. Army, keeps energy efficiency and renewable energy at the forefront of work at the facility.

Back to Top

August 2014 update

A photo of a white storage container with an inset photo of a shelving unit full of bright green batteries.

The energy management system installed at the Navy's Pacific Missile Range Facility in Hawaii holds the system's main controller, advanced batteries (inset), and the human machine interface. Photos by Robert Butt, NREL, and Gregory Martin, NREL (inset)

Project Overview
Field demonstrations of newly proven energy efficient technologies are yielding valuable results for the U.S. Navy, helping it meet energy goals.
LocationsHawaii and Guam
PartnersU.S. Navy, Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC), NAVFAC-Pacific, NAVFAC Atlantic's Engineering Criteria Office, NAVFAC Hawaii, NAVFAC Marianas, NAVFAC-HQ
and Efficient
energy efficiency, alternative energy, and energy system integration
ContactJeff Dominick

NREL partnered with the U.S. Navy's Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) to demonstrate energy efficiency measures, renewable energy generation, and energy systems integration at installations in Hawaii and Guam. The projects field-tested the performance of energy improvement technologies and provide credible performance data to help guide energy-related decisions. Based on the initial success of these field demonstrations, the Navy is planning broader implementation of the following energy-efficiency technologies.

  • Advanced Control System Retrofits on Rooftop Air-Conditioning Units—NREL and NAVFAC implemented advanced control systems on existing rooftop air-conditioning units (RTUs) on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickham in Hawaii, increasing the efficiency of the equipment. During the demonstration, the retrofits reduced overall energy use by 100 megawatt-hours across the 11 RTUs, roughly a 15% reduction in energy usage.

  • Energy Management System for Photovoltaic System Interconnection—An energy management system (EMS) installed by the NREL-NAVFAC team at the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Hawaii improved utilization of existing photovoltaic (PV) systems, enabling successful interconnection with the utility grid. The EMS demonstration resulted in energy savings of 320 megawatt-hours during the 6-month demonstration period, paying for itself in 5 years at local electricity rates.

  • Residential Energy-Efficiency Equipment on Military Housing—The NREL-NAVFAC team demonstrated whole-house energy efficiency retrofits in military housing on Naval Base Guam. The retrofit technologies—including heat pump water heaters and high-efficiency air conditioners coupled with programmable thermostats and low-flow shower heads—showed promising cost and energy savings, with an annual savings of 4,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) in air-conditioning use (25% average reduction) and 1,400 kWh in water heating use (70% average reduction) per home reducing total home consumption by an average of 20%. As a result of the findings, Naval Base Guam has made heat pump water heaters and high-efficiency air conditioners the new equipment standard.

  • Advanced Plug Load Controls for Office Equipment—NREL installed and monitored advanced plug load controls in a 100-occupant office building located on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii. The demonstration included an occupant-selected schedule that eliminated unnecessary nighttime and weekend plug loads and showed the Navy could reduce plug load use by 28% and decrease the entire building's energy use by 8%.

The NREL-Navy collaboration began in August 2011 as part of a project focused on identifying underutilized commercial technologies that could help meet the Navy's ambitious energy goals of producing at least 50% of shore-based energy from alternative sources and ensuring that 50% of Navy and Marine Corps installations will be net-zero energy. In addition, reducing energy costs, decreasing reliance on foreign oil and increasing energy security is part of the DOD mission.

To learn more about the demonstration projects, download the NAVFAC Hawaii and Guam Energy Improvement Technology Demonstration Project reports from the NREL Publications Database.

Back to Top