WIT Press

A sustainable prototype for renewable energy: Optimized prime-power generator solar array replacement


Free (open access)


Volume 4 (2019), Issue 1



Page Range

28 - 39

Paper DOI



WIT Press


Nathan Thomsen, Torrey Wagner, Andrew Hoisington & Steven Schuldt


Remote locations such as disaster relief camps, isolated arctic communities, and military forward operating bases are disconnected from traditional power grids forcing them to rely on diesel generators with a total installed capacity of 10,000 MW worldwide. The generators require a constant resupply of fuel, resulting in increased operating costs, negative environmental impacts, and challenging fuel logistics. To enhance remote site sustainability, planners can develop stand-alone photovoltaic-battery systems to replace existing prime power generators. This paper presents the development of a novel cost-performance model capable of optimizing solar array and Li-ion battery storage size by generating tradeoffs between minimizing initial system cost and maximizing power reliability. A case study for the replacement of an 800 kW generator, the US Air Force’s standard for prime power at deployed locations, was analyzed to demonstrate the model and its capabilities. A MATLAB model, simulating one year of solar data, was used to generate an optimized solution to minimize initial cost while providing over 99% reliability. Replacing a single diesel generator would result in a savings of 1.9 million liters of fuel, eliminating 100 fuel tanker truck deliveries annually. The distinctive capabilities of this model enable designers to enhance environmental, economic, and operational sustainability of remote locations by creating energy self-sufficient sites, which can operate indefinitely without the need for resupply. 


Battery, Diesel generator, Energy storage, Isolated sites, Optimization, Photovoltaic, Renewable energy, Solar array, Stand-alone.