The Foreign Service Journal - July/August 2017
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Some posts have areas

where nothing can be built—

here the array can be mounted

on the ground, which is the

least expensive option.

Figure 2. The State Department’s Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations is installing solar and wind power technologies around

the world. The three dark blue dots shown on this map represent installed wind turbines. The orange dots represent installed solar

systems, and the gold dots are solar systems under construction or being planned. The size of the dot indicates the relative size of the

system—larger dots, larger systems; smaller dots, smaller systems.


in technology and falling

component prices, such

as the silicon used to

fabricate the crystalline

panels. Current depart-

ment-owned systems

are estimated to gener-

ate electricity for as low

as $0.10 to $0.15/kWh,

making the systems cost

effective for posts paying higher than $0.15/kWh for power. The

lower cost allows for broader worldwide deployment and greater

energy independence and security for our missions.


The third key is locating a place on government-owned prop-

erty to install the array: size matters as much as unobstructed

sunshine. Canopies over staff parking lots are prime candidates

for solar arrays. Staff parking lots are typically not candidates

for future building projects, and even with the added cost of

building a structure to support the array, the extra benefits of

shading vehicles, ease of

accessible maintenance

and possible rainwater

capture make them pre-

ferred sites. Some posts

have areas where nothing

can be built—here the

array can be mounted on

the ground, which is the

least expensive option.

Arrays can be mounted on building roofs, but this complicates

long-termmaintenance of both the system and the roof.

Local Support and Regular Checkups

For the most part, these systems need little care or feeding

as they passively lower the cost of your electricity bill. Dust will

build up, but is often washed away naturally by rain. If not, then

cleaning can improve productivity; but the cleaning may cost

more than the increased productivity. Calculate the benefit

before you bring out the hose.

A general weekly observation tour is recommended to make