Solar-storage Microgrid forms energy center of rebuild at storm-devastated Air Force Base in Florida

Nov. 16, 2021
Tyndall AFB is being rebuilt as an “Installation of the Future” with updated building codes, smart building technology and greater storm resilience

By Rod Walton, EnergyTech Senior Editor

Gulf Power has started work on a solar and energy storage microgrid project at Tyndall Air Force Base.

The microgrid pilot project comes three years after Tyndall AFB sustained a direct hit from Hurricane Michael. The Category 5 storm caused an estimated $4.7 billion in damages and destroyed nearly 500 buildings.

The United States Air Force announced it would rebuild the base near Panama City, Fla., as an “Installation of the Future” with updated building codes, smart building technology and greater storm resilience.

Gulf Power, which is part of NextEra Energy-owned Florida Power & Light (FPL), will partner with FPL and the military to construct the microgrid.

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“As Tyndall rebuilds, Gulf Power and FPL are combining resiliency and renewables to the effort as a way to ensure mission readiness,” said Mike Spoor, Gulf Power vice president. “This pilot project is a win-win for the regional economy, the Air Force and our customers. Supporting Tyndall’s viability is critical to thousands of military and civilian jobs. And, the Air Force, Gulf Power and FPL will be working together to learn from this first-of-its-kind project and test a variety of use cases, which could help us build a smarter, stronger grid for customers – especially during storms.”

The microgrid at Tyndall, which Gulf Power and FPL expect to complete early next year, will comprise a 150-kW solar array and 450 kW, 2.5-hour battery. The microgrid will have a 10-year lifespan and support three buildings on base.

Tyndall Air Force Base is home to critical U.S. Air Force readiness, as well as the F-22 Raptor simulator training program and the only Air Battle Manager School in the U.S. Air Force. Tyndall also serves as headquarters to the First Air Force, which is responsible for air defense and air sovereignty of the contiguous U.S., U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

“The Air Force has a tradition of operating on the leading edge of innovation, and at Tyndall Air Force Base, microgrid technology has emerged as a promising way to create a resilient and sustainable ‘Installation of the Future,” said Col. Travis Leighton, Natural Disaster Recovery Program division chief.

Microgrid technology can uniquely address customer needs for resiliency in the wake of extreme weather events such as wildfires and hurricanes.

(Rod Walton, senior editor for EnergyTech, is a 14-year veteran of covering the energy industry both as a newspaper and trade journalist. He can reached at [email protected]).