Promoting Energy and National Security

Last Updated:
Fri, 2013-05-10 14:33
Last Commented:
Sat, 2012-08-25 22:43

In an effort to reduce energy costs and dependency on foreign fuel sources, the Department of Defense (DOD) has made one of the largest commitments to clean energy in history – to generate 3 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy by 2025, enough power to sustain nearly 750,000 homes. To accomplish this goal, the DOD has tasked the Army, Navy, and the Air Force to install 1 GW of power each, through renewable energy sources including solar, wind, biomass, and geothermal.

north americaPreviously, the Air Force and Navy have committed to 1 GW of power by 2016 and 2020, respectively, making the DOD goal of 2025 a feasible one. Overall, the DOD is aiming to use 25 percent of its energy from renewable energy sources by 2025, emphasized by its Operational Energy Strategy Implementation Plan, released earlier this year.

Moreover, the DOD is making commitments toward new energy efficient buildings and retrofits. Due to increased energy prices, the department experienced a spike in energy costs from 2010 to 2011, which greatly influenced the decision to pursue alternative energy sources. Currently, the DOD consumes about 1 percent of all the energy consumed in the U.S., which is mostly attributed to its 300,000 buildings, which according to DOD’s Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Installations and Environment, Dorothy Robyn, is “three times the footprint of all the Walmart stores.” In addition, the DOD’s expansive area of land, around 28 million acres, will serve as grounds for renewable energy sources such as solar.

In conjunction with renewable energy efforts by the DOD, the Department of Energy (DOE) launched a $30 million research competition through its Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E), which will help improve energy storage technology. The following program will initiate next-generation energy storage sensing and control technologies, which can potentially allow the military to:

  • Improve reliability of military aircraft generators to reduce operational and maintenance costs;
  • Enable efficient operations for Navy ships;
  • Increase fuel efficiency of military generators to reduce the need for fuel-convoys on the battlefield;
  • Create a new generation of electric and hybrid-electric vehicles;
  • Enhance the reliability and efficiency of the U.S. electricity grid.

According to the White House, “renewable energy is critical to making our bases more energy-secure. Together with emerging microgrid and storage technologies, reliable, local sources of renewable power will increase the energy security of our nation’s military installations. By doing so, the DOD is better able to carry out its mission to defend the nation.” Ultimately, the efforts made by both the DOD and DOE will help promote both energy and national security, as the military can focus on domestically-generated energy, rather than relying solely on unstable fuel sources, which fluctuate in price and supply.

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By Peter J. Bock

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