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U.S. Army selects ACCIONA to develop its largest-ever renewables project

10/16/2009

The Army plans to install 500 MW of solar power at Fort Irwin (California), home of its largest training range and a NASA communications center.

ACCIONA Solar Power and Clark Energy Group's joint project represents an investment of approximately $2 billion dollars.

The project is part of a program aimed at improving energy efficiency and energy security in the U.S armed forces.

The Army plans to install 500 MW of solar power at Fort Irwin (California), home of its largest training range and a NASA communications center.

ACCIONA Solar Power and Clark Energy Group's joint project represents an investment of approximately $2 billion dollars.

The project is part of a program aimed at improving energy efficiency and energy security in the U.S armed forces.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has selected the team of ACCIONA Solar Power, an affiliate company of ACCIONA, and the Clark Energy Group to develop a large-scale solar energy project (the first phase comprises five sites that come to a total 500 MW) at one of its most iconic installations: the Fort Irwin military complex, located in the Mojave Desert (California). The base is the U.S. Army's largest training ground and also houses NASA's Goldstone Deep Space Communications center. A memorandum of understanding was signed today by the Department of the Army, Fort Irwin and the ASP-Clark joint venture during a kick-off meeting celebrated at Fort Irwin.

The announcement follows a competitive bid process opened in March by the U.S. Army's Senior Energy Council, a body created in October 2008 to accelerate and oversee a sustainable energy strategy aimed at finding alternative energy sources, obtaining increased energy savings and securing energy supplies for U.S. Army installations, personnel, vehicles and other assets.

A federal mandate requires the U.S. Army to reduce its energy consumption by 30 per cent by 2015 (compared to 2003) and to cover 25 per cent of its energy needs with renewable energies by 2025.

The Fort Irwin project is part of the Army's "Enhanced Use Leasing" (EUL) program, designed to allow private sector entities "to acquire and leverage value from under-utilized non-excess real estate assets on Army and select Department of Defense Installations".

The Defense Department's largest-ever solar energy project

The ACCIONA Solar Power-Clark Energy Group joint-project will develop approximately 500 MW of solar power, a figure that could be increased to 1,000 MW at a later stage. The project will involve concentrating solar power (CSP) and photovoltaic technology and is the U.S. Department of Defense's largest-ever solar project. To date, the 14 MW solar plant at Nellis Air Force Base (Nevada) and the 2 MW installation at Fort Carson, Colorado are the Department of Defense's largest solar power generating plants.

The facilities will be installed at five sites  a total 5,600 hectares  following selection for suitability by Army technicians.

The project is at an initial stage and studies are being carried out to identify the most suitable and efficient technological solutions. Construction will take place over a relatively long period of time and will be staggered in several phases: by 2014, the first site development should be sufficiently advanced to cover Fort Irwin's total energy needs. The project is at an initial stage and studies are being carried out to identify the most suitable and efficient technological solutions. Construction will take place over a relatively long period of time and will be staggered in several phases: a 20MW PV plant will be producing power running by 2013; and the rest of the installations   -combining CSP and PV technology - will be ready in 2022.

Production might be stepped up to 1.000MW at a later stage, depending on demand and transmission capacity.

The 500MW project will boost job creation locally some 4.000 new direct jobs in the construction phase

"To be selected for this project is an indication of the trust that one of the world's most technologically advanced organizations places in ACCIONA's ability to develop renewable projects. It also confirms our position as an active player in the U.S. clean energies market", said Alberto de Miguel, ACCIONA Energy's Development Director.

"The Fort Irwin solar power project is an example of how the U.S. Army can lead the nation forward towards a future of energy security", said the Army's energy security program director, Kevin Geiss.

"Fort Irwin is proud to host this groundbreaking effort by the Department of the Army in partnership with Clark and ACCIONA Solar Power", said Fort Irwin garrison commander, Colonel Jim Chevalier. "The plant is the largest solar project in the state and it illustrates the commitment of Fort Irwin and the Army to incorporate environmental stewardship at all levels of operations."

"Quite frankly, the Department of Defense was a little bit late coming to the topic of efficiency and renewables, but now it's at the forefront,"  said Richard Kidd, a high-ranking official at the U.S. Department of Energy, in a recent statement to the New York Times. 

High-ranking military spokesmen underline the strategic importance of the project, which will provide back-up power in the event of blackouts at two vital centers: the Fort Irwin training camp, where soldiers are trained for fighting in the war against international terrorism; and the NASA space missions communications center.

The Nevada Solar One experience

Fort Irwin is located in the Mojave Desert, one of the areas with the most hours of sunlight in the whole of the U.S., making the base an ideal site for solar generating technology. The complex stands midway between Los Angeles (California) and Las Vegas (Nevada), at a location similar to the site of the 64 MW Nevada Solar One concentrating solar power (CSP) facility, installed by ACCIONA Solar Power 82 miles southeast of Las Vegas. The plant was grid-connected in June 2007.

In accordance with EUL requirements, the project will be financed and developed by both companies  costs are expected to come to approximately 2 billion dollars (approximately 1.35 billion euros) who will deliver services in kind (e.g., operation and maintenance) in exchange for the lease of military land holdings. Any excess electricity produced can be sold to the grid, via two high-power transmission lines in the vicinity of Fort Irwin.

The new 500 MW solar facilities are expected to produce approximately 1 billion kWh annually, far exceeding Fort Irwin's 35 MW peak load.
This is the equivalent of the electricity consumption of 100.000 U.S. households and will avoid the emission of 30 million metric tons of C02 throughout the facility's life-cycle (the equivalent of taking 860,000 cars off the road).

A key market for ACCIONA

The U.S. is a priority market for ACCIONA: the Company operates here with wind power and CSP facilities and is seeking to enhance its presence by taking part in the Obama Administration's push for renewable energies.

ACCIONA has installed 490 MW of wind power across five wind parks in North Dakota, South Dakota, Illinois and Oklahoma and with projects under development in 15 other states.

The Group also owns a wind turbine manufacturing plant in Iowa and the 64 MW CSP Nevada Solar One plant in Nevada, and has plans to develop additional solar projects in states across the Southwest.

Fort Irwin: A 23,000−strong military and space complex

Fort Irwin is a large U.S. military complex located in the Mojave Desert, halfway between Los Angeles (245 km to the southwest) and Las Vegas (290 km to the northeast).

The base sprawls over 4,000 square meters and is home to the U.S. Army's largest training camp (5,000 recruits from all over the country arrive there every month) and NASA's Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex, commonly called the Goldstone Observatory, whose colossal antennas are used for space mission communications. The most important antenna has a diameter of 70 meters and is able to establish and maintain contact with the most far-flung man-made object to date: the Voyager Mars Program probe, 16,000 kilometers away from Earth.

These features make Fort Irwin a town of 23,000 inhabitants made up of military personnel and civilians and their respective families. The base has hangars and barracks, but also residential housing, elementary and high schools, health centers, movie theatres, museums, churches, restaurants and many of the other amenities usually available in large communities.

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