Forget bin Laden: Gitmo is green!

You might think that the big terrorism news today is that we finally got Osama bin Laden. Hah, that shows how much you care about the planet.

Nope today’s big news is that the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base (Gitmo) is going green. As reported this morning by Climatewire,

The isolated Cuban base generates a small fraction of its electricity from four 242-foot wind turbines and has also moved forward to employ solar technologies. The base still receives the majority of its power from a fleet of 20 diesel generators, but it is on the front lines of the Navy’s efforts to slash its fuel use and energy bills.

Jackalyne Pfannenstiel, the assistant secretary of the Navy for energy, installations and environment, traveled to Guantanamo Base last week on the heels of news that the Defense Department fell short of its 2010 sustainability goals for slashing energy intensity and greening its buildings.

“Energy is expensive here in Guantanamo, which makes [implementing] green technology and renewable energy sources much more cost effective here,” said Pfannenstiel. “I want to make sure that the energy efforts being made here are supported,” she added, in a statement.

Future naval bases may have a skyline like Guantanamo Bay’s. Photo courtesy of Department of Defense.

At Guantanamo, the Navy has installed solar lights along its streets and at some of its buildings, said Lewis Mesta, a spokesman for the base. The base also uses a solar array to pump purified water from its desalination plant to one side of the island, he said.

Still, the base could strengthen the effort to green itself by employing biofuels to wean itself off of diesel power and building up more solar and wind power, said Pfannenstiel. “Another [renewable energy source] the Navy is looking at is waste-to-energy conversion,” said Pfannenstiel. “Waste-to-energy is ideal for military bases in general, especially islands.”

Guantanamo’s clean technology efforts kicked off seven years ago when the wind turbines were constructed, serving as an important example of how an isolated base could move toward greater energy independence by “greening” itself.

Beyond standing as a guidepost for the Navy, said Pfannenstiel, Gitmo can also serve as an example of how a typical American town could move toward greater renewable energy sources.

Pfannenstiel comments about the cost-effectiveness of renewable energy are dubious — since, while the Constitution does not apply to Gitmo, the laws of physics and economics do.

We certainly hope that the mission to kill bin Laden was green — i.e., relied on electric helicopters, lead-free ammunition and biodegradable shell-casings. We also hope that airheaded Pfannenstiel et al. are kept as far away as possible from the valiant Navy SEAL program as possible.

Windmills at Gitmo: Semper viridis?

15 thoughts on “Forget bin Laden: Gitmo is green!”

  1. This is GREAT NEWS! There is a park just down the street from my home with a “solar street light” located at the park entrance. The light on the pole actually came on at dusk – though not with enough brightness to read your watch. Then, after about 8 months, it quit working. After only 3 years, the parts to repair it finally showed up (From Germany!!! Land of Lederhosen!!!) and again it lasted only about six months. Alas it is now again defunct.

    Don’t try to tell me that the Solar Streetlights at Gitmo are any more effective (or reliable). The difference is that The Federal Gummint can drop HUGE $$$ on them (and all paid for by you, your kids, your grandkids, your great-grandkids, your hreat-great-grandkids, etc...

  2. It makes no sense to supply about 3 MW of intermittent electricity with wind and solar at the same cost of supplying about 100 MW of electricity continuously by burning coal or fuel or gas.


  3. My son works for a wind turbine farm north of Sterling CO. This farm lies in a major wind tunnel that stretches from Dwyer Jct WY to Windsor CO. (Without this wind tunnel the heartland would choke to death.) I lived and worked in this wind tunnel for thirty years, so I am familiar with it. My son got word that they are shutting this farm down in September. If these units are not viable here, they are not viable anywhere.

  4. I wish an oil company consortium would build a pipeline to supply a Guantanamo refinery with Gulf crude, and sell the gasoline to the Cubans.

    Given some cars and some gasoline, the Cubans would overthrow that Communism mess themselves.

    But greenie weenies like having Cubans and anybody else live in squalor. It gives them a happy feeling inside.

    The USG is party to this sh*t

  5. This is one case where using solar energy and wind power makes sense. Since everything they use has to be shipped in they need to find alternative sources. I seriously doubt the Navy cares about green as much as they are concerned with self reliance in Gitmo. With plenty of sunshine and off shore breezes it makes sense to take advantage of modern solar and wind technology to create their own energy. The ridiculous part is turning the situation in a “look how much we care about the earth” public relations moment. They should have said, “Now this is what solar and wind energy is all about: we are using nature to supplement our energy needs because we are stuck in Cuba and have to ship everything in. It’s not about Green, it’s all about self reliance. It’s not about saving money, because some of this stuff costs more than shipping in suppliesl, it’s about practical utilization of all resources.”

  6. Hey pardner:

    Each one of those “greenie” inefficient windmills uses more fossil fuel to build, transport and erect, than would run the generators for the life of Gitmo. Windmills are the most inefficient, unreliable, and costly “alternate” energy going. Their “carbon footprint” makes a diesel generator look positively “pristine.”

  7. Isn’t it cruel and unusual punishment to have to look out and see wind turbines littering the landscape?

    I would take this up with the UN or Red Cross, if I were them. Water torture is enough, but there must be limits!!!

  8. The green people will not be satisfied until we are living under bridges kept warm by leaves not fur and no electricity . It is their plan to bring us to the place we were at when fire was first found . I have nothing against recycling it is only smart to reuse what we use . If there really was a good payback to solar and windmills people would opt for them over sending their hard earned cash to the power companies . Reliability is the key word in any military operation , can you imagine having a brown out or a complete shut down of electricity during a fight? It is comparable to having someone fight with no weapons while the enemy has all kinds at their disposal . The fighting men and women have enough on their plates then have to worry about losing power in the middle of things. POLAR BEARS LIVE! 5,000 to now 25,000 mmm mmm mmm !

  9. It seems to me that isolated bases such as Guantanamo Bay are perfect candidates for the small, transportable, packaged nuclear power generators that now are available. They could even be barge-mounted so that they would be easy to remove quickly if need be.

    Does the Navy have any obsolete but seaworthy nuclear submarines in mothballs somewhere?

  10. Andy,
    You miss the point ,lets use green energy where it makes economic sense,just don’t put my tax money down a rat hole,and don’t tell me how to live my life.

    Most of this green energy thing is about control of peoples lives and makes no economic sense.

  11. Meh… your scarcasm about the article is unwarranted.
    The author was shining a light on the silliness of the green argument. Apparently you missed that. If Pfannenstiel had written about the logistical payoffs instead of touting greenness we wouldn’t be tossing metaphorical veggies at him and booing. Wind and solar (panels) have no positive payback. The ROI is and always will be negative. However, if that cost is preferred to other costs (transportation of goods, etc.) then okay.
    The non discussed BIG point here is reliability. After all this is a military installation holding some very dangerous people.

  12. Meh…your sarcasm about power on Gitmo is unwarranted. The base at Guantanamo Bay has a huge number of logistical issues all stemming from the fact that EVERYTHING has to be either flown in (people, fresh fruits/veggies/meats) or brought in on barges/shipboard (bulk stuff like diesel, large objects like cars, etc.etc.) Also, all fresh water is purified on-site (no water from the Cubans). ANYTHING that reduces the amount of shipping to Gitmo is a good idea.

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