Science and Technology News

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

GTMO's New Solar Farm Poised to Harvest the Sun

By Chief Mass Communication Specialist (SW) Bill Mesta, Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba Public Affairs

GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba (NNS) -- Throughout the month of October, Naval Station (NS) Guantanamo Bay, Cuba is observing Energy Awareness Month which runs from Oct. 1-31, on base.

This year's Energy Awareness Month themed, "Turn Words into Action; Turn Action into Results," promotes energy conservation for base residents.

The naval station is currently constructing a solar farm that is approximately the size of a football field. It will provide electricity for the expansion of Denich Gym at the Cooper Field sports complex.

"The gym solar array will provide power directly to the gym for operation, reducing the amount of power that needs to be produced by the diesel generators," said Wagoner. "The gym solar array will use photovoltaic (PV) panels; PV is a method of generating electrical power by converting solar radiation into direct current electricity which is then converted to alternating current that can be used by the facility."

The implementation of solar technology will be valuable to the naval station as using alternative, renewable energy sources. It will also reduce the cost and emissions that result from producing electricity using diesel generators.

"This solar array is important to the base because it will be the first large scale solar array on the station and will show the possibilities of solar power on the station," said Wagoner. "The use of alternative energy sources is extremely important for the base to provide energy security to it. Currently with the diesel generators, we are completely dependent on the fuel that is delivered to the station."

Another example of new solar technology at GTMO is the recently installed perimeter lighting on the leeward side of the naval station.

"The solar perimeter lights will reduce our electrical consumption by running off of batteries at night that are charged by solar panels during the day which reduces the amount of power that needs to be produced by diesel generators," said Wagoner.

Other recent equipment added to the naval station's inventory to make the base more energy efficient includes LED street lighting and two 3.5 megawatt generators.

"The LED lights are approximately 75 percent more efficient than their mercury vapor and high pressure sodium counterparts which results in less power that has to be produced by the diesel generators," said Wagoner. "The new generators have an increased efficiency, which means that it takes less diesel fuel to produce the same amount of power as the old generators."

"GTMO is an isolated base and produces all of its own electricity and water," said Tim Wagoner, NS Guantanamo Bay's resource efficiency manager. "It is everyone's responsibility to conserve whenever possible."

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus laid out five aggressive energy goals in October 2009 to improve energy security and efficiency, increase energy independence, and help lead the nation toward a clean energy economy. This initiative assists in achieving the energy goal of increasing alternative energy afloat and ashore where by 2020, the Department of the Navy (DON) will produce at least 50 percent of shore-based energy requirements from alternative sources and 50 percent of DON installations will be net-zero.

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