The US Army plans 500 megawatt solar thermal plant at Fort Irwin

The US Army is to partner with the private sector to construct a 500 megawatt solar thermal plant at Fort Irwin, California, in the Mojave Desert.

The plant will provide renewable power on the grid and provide the sprawling Army post with added energy security against disruption of power supply, as per the information available.

It is being said that the Mojave Desert plant would feed electricity to the grid by 2014 for savings of $21 million and 4,015,000 tons of carbon dioxide over 25 years. Construction is set to begin in 2012. The Army's solar thermal system would eclipse the 14 megawatts at Nellis Air Force Base near Las Vegas, the largest US solar photovoltaic installation.

The Army recently established a Senior Energy Council to serve as a board of directors focusing on Army energy policy, programmes and funding to leverage the Army's nationwide energy-conservation efforts. The secretary also announced five major energy projects as part of the council's initial work. These projects are in addition to ongoing efforts like the solar projects at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, and Fort Carson, Colo. among the others.

Secretary of the Army, Pete Geren, said, "We spend over $3 billion every year on energy and the majority of it is spent on our installations. We can significantly reduce our energy consumption by partnering within government and with the private sector to capitalise on the great strides in proven technology that have been developed and implemented across the country."

To renew this focus on energy security, conservation and installation-level innovations, the Army announced several pilot projects and one of them is the 500 megawatt solar thermal plant at Fort Irwin.