Soon after the Department of Navy partnered with local military officials to begin implementing renewable energy projects, North Carolina was ranked third in the nation for solar power capacity by the Solar Energy Industries Association.
The Camp Lejeune Solar Facility, operated by Duke Energy Progress, has contributed to this new ranking by becoming one of four large solar projects in North Carolina.
“Camp Lejeune has been one of those projects we haven’t heard a lot about after construction, mainly because everything has gone so well,” Randy Wheeless, spokesman for Duke Energy, said Tuesday afternoon.
Wheeless further explained that Duke Energy is looking to expand its solar portfolio in North Carolina.
The facility sits on approximately 80 acres of land nestled between the Naval Hospital and Camp Lejeune Main Gate, connected to a Duke Energy substation that supplies the base and local power grid.
The project was organized by the Department of Navy, Camp Lejeune and Duke Energy Progress.
And according to Wheeless, the power generated at the facility is available to Duke Energy Progress customers.
“This is an especially important moment that demonstrates that the Corps’ ongoing quest for renewable resources can be achieved by partnering with private industry. The power generated by this solar facility in the coming years will ultimately provide our installation and the community with increased energy security while reducing energy costs to better support the Marine Corps mission,” Nat Fahy, director of Public Affairs for Camp Lejeune, said Tuesday afternoon.
The facility is currently classified as a model 2 facility, meaning it generates energy on site which then flows to the external grid for community consumption.
Fifty-five thousand photovoltaic panels at the facility can produce 17 megawatts (MW) of direct current or 13 MW of alternating current, powering about 2,000 residential homes for a year. The annual output for the facility is 27,000MW/per hour, according to the Duke Energy website.
The Camp Lejeune Solar Facility began operating on Nov. 21, 2015, and stands as a qualifying project of the Navy’s Renewable Energy Program Office (REPO), supporting the Secretary of the Navy’s goal to bring one gigawatt of renewable energy into procurement by the end of 2015.
The land is owned by Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, and leased to Duke Energy Progress on a 25 year term.
At the time, the Camp Lejeune Solar Facility was the first Duke Energy Progress solar project on an active military base.
Duke Energy Corporation expects to start building a solar facility similar to Camp Lejeune’s at the Naval Support Activity Crane in Indiana at the end of this month, said Wheeless.
By 2020, the Department of Navy plans to produce at least half of its on-shore energy needs from sources other than oil, stating its reliance on petroleum is a national security risk.