SolarCity this week announced the latest in its SolarStrong initiative to supply power to the military.
The California third party ownership lease company will install 3.4MW of solar PV across 600 systems at Soaring Heights Communities on Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico, a lend lease military family housing community.
The project is expected to reduce energy bills by 30%-40% and contribute to the military's goal of a 20% reduction energy consumption within the next two to 5 years for its housing portfolio.
Aaron Gillmore, SolarCity's, vice president of solar development, told PV Tech: “This is more like a large commercial project than it is residential but the rest of it is no different from residential. We're not really learning anything new in the sense that we've done this several times before in terms of military installations. We're the only company I know of that has done anything like this with this much residential PV installed in one location.”
The SolarStrong project includes a five-year plan to provide solar power to up to 120,000 military homes. SolarCity's original proof of concept was a 900-home project on Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona, announced in 2009. Other projects have since followed at Fort Bliss in Texas, Naval and Marine bases in Hawaii, Peterson and Schriever Air Force Bases in Colorado and Tierra Vista Communities on Los Angeles Air Force Base.
The Department of Defense has a goal to meet 25% of its energy requirements with renewables by 2025. As of early 2013, there are more than 130MW of solar photovoltaic (PV) energy systems powering military bases, according to a May 2013 report by the Solar Energy Industries Association.
Last month, SolarCity also announced the launch of a new energy efficiency home assessment service, which it is offering to its customers free of charge. Energy Explorer is a software programme that rates appliances and household energy use to identify opportunities for home improvements and efficiency savings.
Peter Rive, SolarCity’s co-founder and chief technology officer, said: “Energy Explorer isolates the sources of energy expenses and analyzes the specific impact of solutions. With Energy Explorer, SolarCity has changed a process that used to require four hours and cost hundreds of dollars into a free service that takes a few minutes and the single click of a mouse.”