Rocket City Futurism Two

Solar arrays in Cumming Research Park by 2015? It could become reality as part of the latest grand vision being boosted by Huntsville’s city leaders.

Energy Huntsville, an economic development initiative, seeks to leverage Huntsville’s critical mass of engineering and technical talent to promote clean and renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Says Jay Newkirk, Energy Huntsville strategic planning director, those arrays could become part of a national demonstration project, in which the owner of a Chevy Volt or Nissan Leaf, for example, could drive up to charging stations throughout CRP, plug in, recharge, and drive off.

Rocket City, with its thousands of technical employees devoted to research and development in military and aerospace applications, is facing shrinking defense and stagnant NASA budgets. To offset that loss, a year ago Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle launched an initiative to make the city a national hub of cyber security research. Now he wants to focus Huntsville’s intellectual capital on the country’s energy needs, which he termed a “critical national problem.”

Battle said the goal is to bring together government, industry, academia and the utilities in a collaborative effort to attract energy talent, increase energy conservation, promote the resilience of the energy infrastructure and create jobs.

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The initiative has a major ally in the federal government, which has recently announced major moves towards energy conservation and security. Redstone Arsenal Garrison Commander Col. John Hamilton is looking for ways to run the arsenal more efficiently.  Newkirk says RSA’s goal is to become a “Net Zero” energy user, meaning that the base would produce as much energy as it uses.

By Mike Kelley

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