The DOE’s recommendation that the military adopt solar backup generators means solar is about to get a military-style research boost.
Giant solar farms are springing up all over the country, and companies like Tesla are making it easier for the average consumer to buy rooftop solar panels to power their own homes. But solar is still only around 2 percent of the energy market, and the high tech involved means progress can sometimes be slow.
That’s why it’s great news that the military is looking to increase its use of solar panels. The Department of Energy recently released a comprehensive look at the U.S. energy grid and concluded that the military needs to rely more on solar power in order to eliminate weaknesses in the grid.
While this report is focused mainly on the ways the military can safeguard against electrical outages or attacks, it’s also a sign of how far solar power has come in recent years. For the government to be considering solar for backup electricity generation proves that the tech has reached a baseline of reliability and efficiency.
That by itself is great news for the solar industry, but if the military is adopting solar power generation then the industry may be about to kick into high gear. With military investment comes military funding, military R&D, and military standards.
If the military gets solar panels, they’re going to want really good solar panels. And they’re going to need better energy storage technology, for those moments when the sun goes down. They’re also going to need to figure out how to run efficient microgrids connected to larger utility-scale grids, which is something that homeowners associations have been struggling with for years now.
To put it simply, the problems the military needs to solve in order to make solar work for them are the same problems that are keeping solar from becoming a more significant part of the energy market. With enough military research funding, we might be able to see solar really start to take off, and hopefully see the developments trickle down to the civilian sector.