By Evan Lewis and Stephanie Christel
Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry joined Ambassador John Hennessey-Niland and the Embassy Koror team in Palau to visit a new photovoltaic installation that will make the embassy the first Net-Zero Energy U.S. diplomatic facility in the world.
The new solar power system is designed to provide 100% of the campus’s annual energy needs, generating more than $100,000 of utility purchase savings during the first year of operation. The U.S. government is projected to save a net of $1.6 million after payback of design, installation, and maintenance costs. During the day, a surplus of power will be generated and sold to the local electricity grid. The campus will purchase energy from the grid when the solar panels do not provide sufficient power, such as at night or during bad weather—this method “turns back” the meter and effectively uses the local grid as a battery. The embassy will never purchase more energy than it has produced.
The Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO), in partnership with the Department of State’s Greening Diplomacy Initiative, continues to address the climate crisis through projects that improve the resiliency and sustainability of diplomatic posts around the world. These efforts result in cutting-edge, renewable infrastructure being installed at posts that can best use them, reducing carbon emissions, minimizing the Department’s impact on local environments, and improving resilience to natural disasters. OBO currently hosts 46 renewable energy installations globally with a total capacity of approximately 10 megawatts. Another 30 are being planned, developed, or installed with a total capacity of 11.6 megawatts.
While Embassy Koror may be the first Net-Zero Energy U.S. diplomatic mission, it will certainly not be the last. Similar installations are underway at project sites around the world including at the U.S. embassies in Apia, Majuro, and Kolonia.
Evan Lewis is a media relations analyst at the Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations. Stephanie Christel is an eco-management analyst for the Greening Diplomacy Initiative within the Office of Management Strategy & Solutions.