The US Dept. of Defense (DoD) spends more on energy than 3/4 of the world’s nations. A rapidly growing percentage of that is coming from clean and renewable energy sources, however. The DoD’s clean energy investments jumped 300%, from $400 million to $1.2 billion, between 2006 and 2009, a figure that’s projected to surpass $10 billion annually by 2030, according to a Pew Charitable Trusts’ research report.
The DoD’s investments are helping spur development and deployment of clean energy technologies in three key areas: vehicle efficiency, advanced biofuels and the installation of renewable energy systems at military bases, according to Pew’s, “From Barracks to the Battlefield: Clean Energy Innovation and America’s Armed Forces.”
“As one of the largest energy consumers in the world, the Department of Defense has the ability to help shape America’s energy future,” said Phyllis Cuttino, director of the Pew Clean Energy Program. “DoD’s efforts to harness clean energy will save lives, save money and enhance the nation’s energy and economic future. Their work is also helping to spur the growth of the clean energy economy.”
Long supply lines have long been viewed as a vulnerable weak point when it comes to military strategy and tactics. Fuel shipments account for 80% of all supply convoys in Iraq and Afghanistan, with 1 in 46 of them suffering casualties in fiscal 2010.
Reducing the number of those casualties while at the same time enhancing the energy security of its military operations has been a big factor in the DoD’s decision to increase its clean and renewable energy investments, as has heightened volatility in the price of oil, the overall impact of oil dependency on its operations and complying with clean energy policies set out by Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, the report’s authors note.
“For the Department of the Navy to meet the challenges we face in the 21st century, we must reduce our dependence on foreign oil and find ways to use energy more efficiently,” commented Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus. “We must ensure that we remain the most formidable expeditionary force in the world, even in these challenging economic times.
“We can do that in part by changing the way we use, acquire and produce energy. Before the end of the decade, our programs to develop and use alternative sources of energy, on shore and at sea, will pay for themselves. We will save the department money, but more importantly, these energy initiatives will make us better war fighters and will saves lives.”
Added five-term US senator from Virginia John W. Warner, also a senior policy adviser to the Pew Project on National Security, Energy and Climate, “Today, our uniformed men and women and their civilian counterparts are committed to transforming the way the department uses energy through efficiency and technology development. Their accomplishments and innovations are enhancing our national, economic and environmental security.”
The DoD had 450 ongoing renewable energy projects producing or procuring 9.6% of its energy from clean sources as of the end of fiscal 2010. Its renewable energy spending is projected to reach $3 billion by 2015 and $10 billion by 2030.
Installation of smart microgrids by the US military is slated to grow 375%, to $1.6 billion annually, come 2020, and is forecast to account for nearly 15% of the microgrid market in 2013.