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US Navy sails into solar future

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The US Navy's high profile efforts to cut its carbon footprint have secured another victory with the installation of a solar parking lot at its Seal Beach facility in California. The $1.9m project, paid for by US stimulus funding, consists of a car park with a photovoltaic carport system. Built in a year by contractor Stronghold Engineering, the system will provide 190 kW of power. The project saw 812 individual 235 Watt modules installed on top of a steel building that serves as a canopy for station cranes. Between them, they will produce approximately 265,310 kWh of energy per year, which the Navy says is enough energy for 15 houses. It added that the scheme will save carbon dioxide equivalent to to taking 33 cars off the road for a year.
This is Stronghold's third solar installation at Seal Beach. Between them, the three systems boast over 2,000 panels, generating roughly 6.5 per cent of the Naval facility's total power needs. It brings the Navy close to meeting a goal set out by the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which mandated that it increase its use of renewable energy to 7.5 per cent of overall energy use. Stronghold also hopes that the project will serve as an inspiration to the owners and managers of other parking lots in the US, which offer vast expanses of flat, sun- soaked roof perfect for solar installations. In 2006, Google equipped a parking lot at its Mountain View headquarters with 1.6 MW of power and it is hoped that other corporate campuses could similarly use parking space to generate energy. The project is the latest in a series of high profile moves from the US Navy, which has seen the force emerge as one of the leading pioneers of renewable energy in the country.
In April, the Navy declared it aims to use renewables for half its power needs at sea and shore-side by 2020, and alongside solar power it is working on a number of marine energy and biofuel projects.