The U.S. Army’s Fort Bragg in North Carolina will soon be home to the largest floating solar plant in the Southeast – a 1.1-MW system as part of a Utility Energy Service Contract (UESC) awarded to Duke Energy. The $36 million contract will focus on energy resilience and security at Fort Bragg: infrastructure modernization including lighting and water upgrades, heating, ventilation and air-conditioning and boiler system improvements.
Ameresco, Duke Energy’s prime contractor, will build the 1.1-MW floating solar PV system on the Big Muddy Lake located at Camp Mackall. Fort Bragg will own and operate the system once construction is completed. Construction is expected to begin in November.
“We approached Duke Energy with the idea of a floating solar array unsure of how they would respond to the innovative concept,” said Audrey Oxendine, Fort Bragg Energy and Utilities Branch Chief. “However, Duke Energy was excited to take on the challenge and work with us to make an idea into reality.”
The floating solar installation will be paired with a 2-MW battery energy storage system. The system will supplement power to Fort Bragg from the local grid and provide backup power during electric service outages.
Floating solar power could have a big future. The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) researchers estimate that installing floating solar photovoltaics on the more than 24,000 man-made U.S. reservoirs could generate about 10 percent of the nation’s annual electricity production. Currently, floating solar makes up only about 1-2 percent of the world’s solar capacity.
About 90 percent of the floating solar capacity in the world is in Asia. However, the technology can take advantage of water space that would otherwise go unused – like at Fort Bragg. (View and download video of a floating solar facility).