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Renewable energy-powered microgrid strengthens air base resilience to energy disruptions

San Diego, CA

Marine Corps Air Station Miramar built a microgrid that generates power using solar panels and landfill gas, expanding its use of renewable energy. The microgrid also strengthens the base’s energy resilience to energy disruptions, with the capacity to self-support energy needs for up to 14 days.

Topics Covered

Energy Efficiency
Renewables
Energy Disruptions

Funding

General Fund/Existing Public Funds

State and local grants

Project Status

Operational since 2021

Problem Addressed

With energy disruptions as a result of climate or cyber-related events becoming increasingly common across military bases, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar made strengthening energy resilience a top priority.

Without reliable energy availability, bases like Marine Corps Air Station Miramar risk costly disruptions to critical operations that can impact national security. For these reasons, the DoD has issued recommendations for military installations to improve their ability to avoid, prepare for, and adapt to energy disruptions.

Back-up power emergency diesel generators can provide some support in the event of power outages but their single-point-of-failure vulnerabilities left a lot to be desired in the search for enhanced energy resilience. Because MCASM was already using methane gas produced by the San Diego landfill to create electricity, the focus became finding new ways to expand their use of renewable energy sources that also enhanced the installation’s energy resilience.

Solutions Used

Marine Corps Air Station Miramar constructed a microgrid powered by renewables like solar and natural gas to strengthen the base's energy resilience, lower emissions, and better monitor the base's reclaimed water system.

In 2016, MCAS Miramar began construction of a microgrid to support the bases’ power grid. Black & Veatch and Schneider Electric were selected to construct the microgrid. The project allows operations at several mission-critical facilities to continue uninterrupted if the utility power grid is compromised or damaged. Built with the capability to scale and potentially power the entire installation, the system is powered primarily using solar photovoltaic (PV) canopies and landfill gas, with a new diesel and natural gas power plant intended to cover critical loads as a redundant energy backup.

“This is not just backup power like a traditional backup generator on a critical system; this is a redundant source of power that will provide us 100 percent capability in over 100 mission-critical buildings on base, including the entire flight line.” Mick Wasco, MCAS Miramar Energy Program Manager.

​​To enable MCASM to optimize its energy use and monitor asset performance in real-time, more than 230 advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) meters are stationed on base and throughout the microgrid system. These AMI meters allow the microgrid controller to manage the energy supply, using on-site generated electricity when energy prices are high and storing on-site generated electricity in energy storage systems for future use when energy prices are low.

“This microgrid system not only strengthens resilience with the ability to support our station with energy for up to 14 days, but it’s enabling us to significantly lower emissions,” said Mick Wasco, installation energy manager at MCAS Miramar. “We’re excited to take this major step integrating renewable energy into our mission and making MCAS Miramar one of the most energy resilient defense facilities in the nation.”

In its crusade to create a more reliable and resilient system, MCAS Miramar also integrated water management into its microgrid capabilities. An existing building was refurbished into an advanced energy and water operations center (EWOC) that provides operators with direct control of the integrated microgrid control system and enables monitoring of the base’s existing smart irrigation control and reclaimed water system. Smarter water management benefits the base by helping identify and correct water quality issues, adding water resilience, and improving water circulation on the base.

In 2019, supported by a $5 million California Energy Commission (CEC) Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC) grant, the project was expanded to enable the integration of landfill gas energy storage for additional resilience and sustainability.

Outcomes

1

MCAS Miramar has strengthened its energy resilience, enabling the station to self-support energy needs for up to 14 days

2

The base’s microgrid has reduced overall emissions through energy generation using solar photovoltaic (PV) panels and landfill gas

3

Better monitoring of irrigation control and reclaimed water system helps the base identify and correct water quality issues, add water resilience, and improve water circulation on the base

4

The base’s capacity to to push up to 6MW of power to San Diego’s central grid can reduce the prevalence of blackouts during high demand hours

Lessons Learned

1

As military water supply and power continue to become more interconnected, integrated planning will be vital for infrastructure modernization projects.

Something Unique

The new microgrid will also integrate with the utility control system at Naval Base San Diego which will have redundant controls for additional energy security. The project won the 2019 Secretary of Defense Environmental Award for Sustainability and the Environmental Protection Agency's National Award for Energy in 2015.

Who Should Consider

Towns, cities, and energy utilities looking to expand reliance on renewable energy and enhance energy resilience.

Last Updated

Apr 21st, 2022
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