US Army Thinking Big on Solar

Via Treehugger, news that the US Army, in partnership with Actus Lend Lease, has planned to build “the world’s largest solar-powered sustainable community on the island of Oahu in Hawaii.”

The construction of 5,388 new homes, renovation/restoration of 2,506 residences and the creation of 10 community centers will cost US $2.2 billion dollars and will produce seven megawatts of photovoltaic paneling, providing approximately 30% of the community’s electrical needs. The second-largest such solar community, the Sydney Olympic Village, had less than one megawatt of photovoltaic power installed. Because every little bit counts, the project has taken steps to tread lightly: Actus Lend Lease brought in a team of arborists to make every effort to preserve the original tree canopy on all the sites, and no old appliance, door or window will be sent to a landfill before first being offered to the low-income residents in the surrounding neighborhoods. The Army Hawaii initiative represents a big step forward in the cost-effectiveness of the technology; it’s the first time a grid-connected project has been able to be profitable enough to install PV solar panels without subsidies. Currently, 93 percent of Hawaii’s electrical power comes from burning oil, all of which is imported. The new solar power will save approximately 18,000 barrels of oil each year.

This is very cool, although the idea that the Army’s building this “without subsidies” seems like strange logic… Still, I’m happy to see my tax dollars going towards a greener military presence in Hawaii. Hemp uniforms, anyone…?

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