Fort Liberty — the North Carolina Army installation formerly known as Fort Bragg — is going solar in an unconventional way.
The Army has put 2,700 solar panels on a lake at nearby Camp Mackall. The panels float on the surface and provide clean energy that helps power Army operations.
Audrey Oxendine is the energy and utilities branch chief for the fort. She says a traditional ground-mounted solar installation would have required cutting down trees on land that’s used for special forces training.
“We also have endangered species in that area, the red-cockaded woodpecker, so we didn’t want to affect their habitat,” she says.
So the Army decided to go with floating solar instead.
“They build it on the shoreline, and then as they get them assembled almost like Legos, they push it out into the lake,” Oxendine says.
The installation also includes battery storage. The next step is to tie the system into a microgrid that can be disconnected from the main electric grid if there’s a power outage.
So even if there’s a disaster, Fort Liberty will be able to use the on-site solar and battery storage system to run its essential services. And that will be good for the climate and national security.
Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media