Irony can be pretty ironic sometimes, the saying goes. When one thinks of the American military facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, sustainability isn't what immediately comes to mind. Yet the LA Times reports that Guantanamo -- known colloquially as "Gitmo" -- is installing a new set of windmills and high-efficiency diesel generators to power the base:
Two of the four windmills, each capable of generating 950 kilowatts of electricity, are operational, and the other two will be online by the end of the month, said the Naval Facilities Engineering Command's Mark Leighton, who is overseeing the project.
Augmenting the wind power are two new diesel generators that operate more efficiently and cleanly than the Cold War-era units they are replacing, which will boost annual fuel savings to $2.3 million once all the new technology is activated in the next few weeks, Leighton said. The equipment also will cut carbon dioxide output at these pristine southern shores by 13 million pounds a year.
The drivers behind this move are a more politics than environmentalism. Guantanamo must remain entirely separate from the rest of Cuba, so all water and power production must be handled on-base. But that doesn't mean that the site can't be a renewable energy role model. Windmills allow the base to overcome sporadic power shortages, handle peak use periods (which more-or-less coincide with peak wind production), and to compensate for problems in the diesel generators. In short, it's a classic example of the value of diverse interconnected generation systems.