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DoE supports solar PV rooftops on military housing

The US Department of Energy has offered a conditional commitment for a partial guarantee of a US$344 million loan supporting a solar photovoltaic (PV) rooftop project for military housing.

By Kari Williamson

Under the SolarStrong Project, SolarCity Corporation will install, own and operate up to 160,000 rooftop solar PV installations on up to 124 US military bases in up to 33 states.

SolarCity expects the project could fund approximately 750 construction jobs over five years and 28 full time operating jobs.

“This is the largest domestic residential rooftop solar project in history,” says Energy Secretary Steven Chu.

“This groundbreaking project is expected to create hundreds of jobs for Americans and provide clean, renewable power to our military families. It can also be a model for other large-scale rooftop solar projects that help America regain its lead in the solar industry.”

The project could create up to 371 MW of new solar PV capacity and includes the installation of residential rooftop solar PV systems on existing privatised military family residences and other privatised buildings, such as community centres, administrative offices, maintenance buildings and storage warehouses.

The solar PV rooftop project will be rolled out over five years, starting with a 4 MW installation at Hickam Air Force base in Hawaii, with construction currently underway.

Welcomed by SEIA

Rhone Resch, President and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), welcomes the announcement, saying: "This landmark deal for SolarCity will be the largest residential project in the world. Not only will this project bring reliable solar energy to servicemen and women throughout the country, it will substantially reduce their energy bills.

"This project draws a line in the sand against foreign sources of energy. The US Department of Defense is the single largest consumer of electricity in the United States. By tapping into our abundant domestic solar energy to power base housing, the military is showing the rest of country that homeowners throughout the US can help improve our energy independence by going solar. This project is wholly in line with the military's mission to provide peace and security to the country, as well as its goal to source 25 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2025.”

He adds: "The 'SolarStrong' project will create thousands of jobs and provide a new career opportunity for our veterans returning home from military service. This project exemplifies the American entrepreneurial spirit that has grown solar from a start up to being the fastest growing industry in the US.”

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Green building  •  Photovoltaics (PV)