Power grid vulnerabilities are one of the most prevalent national security threats. The U.S. military is particularly vulnerable to a systematic attack of the civilian power grid that results in long-term outages. The technical community calls for building up grid resiliency using distributed energy and microgrids for stabilization as multiple sources increases the difficulty of triggering cascading blackouts. Following an attack or natural disaster, microgrids can provide localized energy security. An interdisciplinary team from Michigan Tech recently published a study, showing what it takes to make military bases more secure using solar-powered microgrids.Engineer Joshua Pearce says solar, because of its decreasing costs, geographic accessibility and versatility, makes the most sense for powering microgrids.
The study found a minimal number of military bases have introduced solar PV systems, leaving large parts of the Department of Defense electrical infrastructure vulnerable to attack. According to an interdisciplinary team of engineering and energy policy experts from Michigan Technological University, about 17 GW of solar would be needed to fortify the U.S. military domestically. Overall, the results indicate that a fortified U.S. military grid made up of PV-powered microgrids is technically feasible, within current electrical contractors’ skill sets, and economically viable.