Duke Energy developing floating solar plant at Fort Bragg in North Carolina

Published on June 14, 2022 by Dave Kovaleski

© Duke Energy

Duke Energy and its contractor Ameresco are working with the U.S. Army’s Fort Bragg in North Carolina to develop the Southeast’s largest floating solar plant.

The 1.1-megawatt solar facility is part of a $36 million contract focused on energy resilience and security at Fort Bragg. Construction is complete, but there are some interconnection issues remaining, so it should be online next month. Fort Bragg will own and operate the facility.

“Duke Energy’s work with Fort Bragg will lead to better energy efficiency and cost savings at the base,” Brian Savoy, Duke Energy’s chief strategy and commercial officer, said. “We’re excited to help put Fort Bragg at the forefront of renewable energy innovation through this unique floating solar facility.”

The floating solar system was built on the Big Muddy Lake at Camp Mackall.

“We are grateful for our relationship with Duke Energy and Ameresco,” Col. Scott Pence, garrison commander for Fort Bragg, said. “With this system, the largest floating solar array in the Southeast, we will be able to provide energy resiliency to Fort Bragg operations through sustainable resources. With this partnership, Fort Bragg not only has renewable electricity but energy security that will be critical with continuing the installation’s mission during a power outage.”

The floating solar installation is being paired with a 2-MW battery energy storage system, which will supply power to Fort Bragg from the local grid during electric service outages.

“The opportunity to implement this innovative use of clean energy technology for a military base as notable as Fort Bragg was one that our Federal Solutions team was thrilled to lead on,” Nicole Bulgarino, Ameresco executive vice president and general manager of Federal Solutions, said. “The completed floating solar system – still an underutilized technology in the U.S. – will assure the Army’s mission with clean energy. We look forward to continuing our relationship with Duke Energy and Fort Bragg, working to identify additional state-of-the-art opportunities to reduce the installation’s energy consumption and strengthen its resilience.”

North Carolina is fourth in the nation for overall solar power capacity. Additionally, Duke Energy owns and operates more than 40 solar facilities in North Carolina, including a 13-MW facility at the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in Onslow County.

“This project fulfills the commitment made in our Army Climate Strategy to increase resilience while delivering clean energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” Rachel Jacobson, assistant secretary of the Army for installations, energy and environment, said. “When we collaborate with local utilities and industry to promote energy resilience while powering the local grid, it is a winning solution across the board.”

Only 2 percent of new solar installations are on water, but floating solar is expected to grow quickly over the next decade.