Solar Technology Can Help Secure Military Grids, New Paper Finds

National Security
Solar Technology Can Help Secure Military Grids, New Paper Finds

​Distributed microgrid systems, using solar technology, can help secure the electric grids at military bases to reduce the impact of cyberattacks, physical attacks from terrorists, and natural disasters, researchers say in a new paper.

Vulnerabilities in the power grid are one of the most prevalent national security threats. The technical community has called for building up the resiliency of the grid using distributed energy and microgrids for stabilization. This is because power production from multiple sources increases the difficulty of triggering cascading blackouts. In addition, following an attack or natural disaster, microgrids can provide localized energy security.

In a new paper published in the scholarly journal Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, an interdisciplinary team of engineering and energy policy experts from Michigan Technological University says the first step is to outfit military infrastructure with solar photovoltaic (PV)-powered microgrid systems. 

Currently, only 27 of the more than 400 domestic U.S. military sites have either fortified PV microgrids running now or have plans to do so. This means the majority are vulnerable to long-term power disruptions. Most military backup systems rely on generators, which are also vulnerable to fuel supply disruption.

The researchers found that the military would need 17 gigawatts of PV to fortify all its domestic bases. 

An abstract of the new paper, and instructions for obtaining a complete copy, can be found here:

For more on U.S. Department of Defense utilities, read "Ramping Up Resilience" from the March 2017 issue of Security Management. ​