The U.S. Marines recently made news for their innovative use of suitcase-sized portable solar energy systems, and now they’ve gone in the other direction, sizewise, with a new 1.4 megawatt solar array at Camp Pendleton. It’s the largest solar installation at a Marine Corps base, and one of the largest in San Diego County – and it also illustrates how the U.S. military is becoming a powerful green jobs generator.
Green Jobs and the U.S. Marines
The new installation features solar modules from industry leader Kyocera Solar, Inc., which is an offshoot of the Japan-based Kyocera Corporation. Back-office operations are headquartered in Arizona and California, but the real green jobs story is the company’s new photovoltaic factory in San Diego. The plant opened last June and produced the 6,300 solar modules for the Camp Pendleton system. All together, the system will generate about 2,400 megawatt-hours per year and save the Marine Corps about $336,000 in annual electricity costs.
Camp Pendleton and Sustainability
As reported by Eric Woff of North County Times, Camp Pendleton has become the “epicenter of new green construction.“ One example is a barracks upgraded for efficiency last year, which included replacing an inappropriate lawn with a water-conserving rock/tree garden, dual-flush toilets, Energy Star appliances, extra insulation, and a 50-kW rooftop solar installation among other features. Wolff notes that the base is also constructing water reclamation facilities and installing 1,ooo smart meters. Back in 2009, Camp Pendleton also made news for its recycling and alternative fuel vehicle programs.
The U.S. Military and Green Jobs
When you put together all that activity and multiply it by military facilities across the U.S., that adds up to a lot of employment for workers in green jobs fields, including geothermal and wind power. The U.S. taxpayer stands to benefit because, as illustrated by Camp Pendleton’s money-saving solar installation, the long term effect is to lower the military’s fuel costs. However, with Congress casting a stinkeye on the military budget, let’s hope those green jobs don’t wind up on the chopping block.
Image: Camp Pendleton by expertininfantry on flickr.com.
Tina Casey specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. You can also follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.