Harnessing the Power of the Sun

When energy supplies are interrupted, the Air Force must maintain continuity and operations.

The Maui High Performance Computing Center will be the site of an Advanced Energy Storage and Management Demonstration. The proposed roof-top solar panels are shown here.  (Photo provided by the Air Force Research Laboratory)

The Maui High Performance Computing Center will be the site of an Advanced Energy Storage and Management Demonstration. The proposed roof-top solar panels are shown here. (Photo provided by the Air Force Research Laboratory)

As a result, Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) materials and manufacturing researchers are studying alternative ways to harness the power of the natural environment.

The Advanced Power Technology Office (APTO) is pursuing a Research Development Test and Evaluation (RDT&E) of Advanced Energy Storage and Management (AESM) at a high energy demand facility in Maui, Hawaii.

The study will demonstrate, validate, and document practical and sustainable AESM concepts and technologies in an operational environment at the Maui High Performance Computing Center (MHPCC).

The efforts will assist the Air Force in moving toward Net Zero bases, energy independence, assurance, and security.

Additionally, the results will inform AESM implementation at Department of Defense (DoD) installations worldwide by providing details of broad-scale capability in providing power quality enhancement, reducing cost of operations, and assuring access to energy for high demand or challenged operations.

MHPCC is a 32,000-square-foot facility that was selected by AFRL-APTO for the AESM demonstration after evaluating its energy demands, existing and planned alternative energy sources, operational requirements, and its ability to meet Air Force energy efficiency and renewable energy efforts.

The facility will be installing roof-mounted solar panels, which will provide insight on storage for excess renewable energy, and instantaneous transition to support an uninterruptable operational environment.

Currently, AFRL-APTO is developing the Test and Demonstration Plan for the AESM system. The plan, following technology selection, installation, and demonstration will continue over a 12- to 24-month period.

AESM can utilize grid, wind, generator, or solar power for input in a multitude of operations.

Furthermore, the control system and energy storage components can be customized to the unique requirements of each operation.

The data and lessons harnessed from the AESM demonstration will determine applicability of the technology to be scalable and transferrable. The results can also serve as a resource for future work in battery technology applications.

This activity will demonstrate the benefits of implementing energy storage with renewable energy generation to mitigate energy disruptions that impede Air Force operations. Researchers will also analyze backup power capability to support on-going mission requirements during commercial electrical utility outages.

The APTO Program executes technology development and demonstration of alternative energy technologies on behalf of Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force, Energy.

APTO enables the transition and integration of advanced power and alternative energy technologies into the Air Force’s inventory of ground vehicles, aerospace ground support equipment, Basic Expeditionary Airfield Resources, and base infrastructure through the progression of Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs) while ensuring environmental responsibility.

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