Ground breaks for Tooele Army Depot renewable energy project

Posted at 3:08 PM, Aug 18, 2012
and last updated 2012-08-18 17:08:14-04

TOOELE, Utah - Groundbreaking for the Stirling Solar Array Renewable Energy Project took place at the Tooele Army Depot on Friday. The power dish is a solar power-generating grid that converts the sun's heat into electricity without the use of water.

The dishes are guaranteed to last at least 25 years and, aside from the cooling systems, only have to be maintained every five years.

"The Stirling generator works on a temperature differential; we have a hot side and cold side. The hot side is heated up with any type of energy source. It could be concentrated sun in this case or biodigestive fuels in developing countries," said Guy Letendre, vice president for the Ogden Operations Center. "Behind the mirror there are two drives, one that moves it vertically and one that moves it rotationally. We link it to the location via GPS and we know where the sun is all the time in this particular location."

The US Dept. of Defense says renewable energy is important from a national standpoint.

"There are two ways to look at it. One is at the strategic level: the less we depend upon fuel and resources from outside the continental United States, the better off we are. Secondly, as an operational matter in addition to these installation initiatives, we've also got some innovation occurring in Afghanistan but specifically using solar," said General Martin E. Dempsey, Dept. of Defense.

The Tooele Army Depot specializes in providing services in ammunition equipment, prototype design, development and manufacturing. All parties involved in the project say Utah is the perfect place to start the initiative.

"Utah is a wonderful opportunity. We have a great solar resource in the sun and we have a lot of industry that's moving to Utah that would like clean energy to run their operations on," said Letendre.

Construction efforts will start this fall on the PowerDish will start on a 15-acre site at the Tooele Army Depot. They have a year to build it, but the project is expected to be finished by mid-March.