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A new study released by the US Department of Defense’s (DOD) Office of Installations and Environment has found that the DOD has the potential to generate 7,000MW of solar energy across four military bases in California’s Mojave Desert. The study, conducted by consultancy ICF International, took place over one year and looked at seven military bases in California and two in Nevada.
The report found that while 96% of the surface area of the nine bases was incompatible for solar installations, due mainly to military use, endangered species and other factors, the remaining area was still large enough to generate over 30 times the electricity consumed by the California bases, or nearly 25% of the renewable energy that California is requiring utilities to use by 2015.
The ICF study advised that much of the surface area of the DOD installations at the nine examined bases consist of undeveloped ranges used for training and other military activities, which would render the area unsuitable for solar arrays. Additionally, the agency found that large parts of the bases’ developed areas had cultural and biological resources, flash flood hazards and other conflicts that would also make those areas unqualified for a solar facility. However, the study did find that 25,000 acres were “suitable” for solar development, while another 100,000 acres were “likely” or “questionably” suitable for solar.
Edwards Air Force Base, Fort Irwin, China Lake and Twentynine Palms rounded out the top four military bases with the biggest amount of economically feasible acreage for a solar project. IFC’s study additionally concluded that private developers can utilize the solar potential on these installations with no capital investment needed from the DOD. Furthermore, IFC claims that the development could bring the federal government up to US$100 million a year in revenue or other benefits such as discounted power.