US Defense Department a cleantech hotbed

The idea of a fighting force showing cleantech savvy seems to make heads spin, but for better or for worse the U.S. military might just be our best proving ground for new technologies.

And a whole bunch more are about to get play, with the Department of Defense (DoD) announcing 27 new projects that will be demoed in the current fiscal year as part of the Installation Energy Test Bed initiative.

The Pentagon said some 575 proposals were “submitted by private firms, universities and federal organizations,” and that a competitive process yielded the winners in five areas: smart microgrids and energy storage; component technologies for building energy efficiency; building energy management and control technologies; tools and processes for design, assessment and decision-making associated with energy use and management; and technologies for renewable energy generation.

One of the lucky few in this DOD derby was Cogenra Solar, which copped a $2 million contract to deliver hot water and electricity at two military sites using its technology that combines photovoltaic and solar thermal technologies. 

The company said it will deploy a 242-kilowatt (kW) rooftop array at the Port Hueneme Naval Base in Ventura County and a 121-kW system at the Army Parks Reserve Forces Training Area in Dublin.

Cogenra says its systems capture “up to 75 percent of the sun’s delivered energy” by turning waste heat from PV generation into hot water. That’ll be tested at the military sites and assuming things go as planned, it appears there could be more work for the company. 

In addition to doing the installations, “the project scope includes development of design tools in order to facilitate rapid adoption of solar cogeneration on other DOD sites,” Cogenra said.

Pete Danko, EarthTechling