Camp Lemonnier Goes Green, Installs Solar Panels to Lower Energy Costs

DJIBOUTI (Sept. 20, 2012) U.S. Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Darcie Via of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion One tightens the mounting bolt on a newly installed solar panel while on the roof of a Containerized Living Unit, or CLU, at Camp Lemonnier Sept. 20, 2012. Solar panels are being installed on 12 CLUs as part of an initial test to determine the cost effectiveness of solar power at Camp Lemonnier. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Joshua K. Horton) CJTF-HOA Photo DJIBOUTI (Sept. 20, 2012) U.S. Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Darcie Via of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion One tightens the mounting bolt on a newly installed solar panel while on the roof of a Containerized Living Unit, or CLU, at Camp Lemonnier Sept. 20, 2012. Solar panels are being installed on 12 CLUs as part of an initial test to determine the cost effectiveness of solar power at Camp Lemonnier. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Joshua K. Horton)

Service members on board Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, are one step closer to entering the renewable energy frontier now that workers have begun the first phase of installing solar-powered energy panels.

Sailors from Camp Lemonnier Public Works and Naval Mobile Construction Battalion One are working together to finish phase one of the installation, which they started in September, and will begin phase two sometime next year.

Initially, the participating construction crews are installing panels on 12 of the camp's Containerized Living Units (CLUs) from three brands of panels installed at two different angles and directions.

The effectiveness of the panels will then be observed and compiled into useful data that will help the camp assess how efficient a larger-scaled project could be.

"The main goal of the project is to conserve energy and lower costs," said Petty Officer 1st Class Jean Guerrier. "However, the data needed to determine how effective these panels can be won't be available for about one year."

The panels offer another key benefit to those stationed on board Camp Lemonnier-a healthier environment.

"These panels are eco-friendly," said Constructionman Jeremiah Carnes. "If they enable us to reduce the work load of the generators, the air quality on camp should only improve."

Additionally, the solar panels' current and cumulative energy output and avoided-cost savings are displayed continuously on a computer, viewable by everyone on base.

"It's great to be able to see the daily savings. This investment in renewable energy is well worth it," said Guerrier.

The lessons learned during the initial installation are also important to the process. By utilizing information gathered during the set up and construction of the solar panel rigs, workers will be able to streamline the evolution and speed up the installation process if the camp decides to expand the project in the future.

"This was a completely new ordeal for us," Carnes said. "Most of us working here have never installed a system like this, but it was a great learning experience and there are several techniques we picked up along the way that will help us going forward."

Although the installation of solar-powered rigs is a relatively unfamiliar process to many of the crew, Guerrier isn't surprised at the level of success that these sailors have had making it all work.

"If there's one thing that we knew about our guys, it's that they can adapt to anything," Guerrier said. "I think they proved that here."

The expected completion date of the project is October 2012.

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Djibouti Camp Lemonnier

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