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Energy Quote of the Day: Turning to Renewable Energy to 'Become Better Warfighters'

President Barack Obama Holds Recovery Act Event In Nellis AFB

It’s no secret the US military seeks to increase its renewable energy production capacity as a way to reduce reliance on the sometimes unreliable civilian power grid while decreasing liquid petroleum consumption which is expensive and dangerous to transport. And unlike purely commercial renewable energy projects competing for high profit margins, the military is in many cases willing to pay a premium for the increased security that comes with generating its own electricity and transport fuel, but that ironically means the Pentagon often requires private project finance support in order to reach its energy goals.

The environmental benefits associated with renewable energy are also secondary where the military is concerned.

Take it from the Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus. According to Secretary Mabus, the military is turning to renewable energy to “become better warfighters. That’s the only reason. There are some good side effects — things like reducing carbon and things like climate change — but that’s not the reason we’re doing it. We’re doing it to reduce a vulnerability.” – As reported by American Council on Renewable Energy

Despite fairly high upfront investment requirements, considerable long-term cost savings opportunities come with the shift toward renewables as indicated by the following statistics.

Indeed, 99% of the over 500 military bases on U.S. soil rely on the commercial grid, a reliance that, according to the Defense Science Board, represents a “primary energy challenge.” And this reliance has had real consequences: in 2012 alone, the Department of Defense reported 87 power outages of eight hours or more at its bases.

And our military’s reliance on fossil fuels has cost both lives and money. 1 out of 8 U.S. Army casualties in Iraq happened while protecting fuel convoys. That’s over 3,000 troops, an immeasurable price to pay. In Afghanistan, every gallon of fuel used cost the military an average of $400 by the time it was “dropped in” to a tank. And the volatile fluctuations in the price of fuel meant an extra $3 billion in unplanned expenses for the Department of Defense from 2011-2012. – ACORE

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Clayton Handleman's picture
Clayton Handleman on August 31, 2014

No doubt, at 400 per gallon the military is looking for approaches to help on the front line.  Not only is transportation an issue but in a modern theater in a hot environment data systems must be operated and kept cool.  This has historically been done with diesel generators.  At $400 per gallon, there is motivation for using solar in these bases.

But the military also is looking at it from a bigger picture perspective.  This quote, from a New Jersey National Guard web site, where they have generated over 4 GWhrs of solar power, shows a different side of things:

” In addition to our State and Federal responsibilities we must, in our human conciseness be good stewards of our environment and our future. One of the most impactful ways to accomplish this is to insure that our facilities are run in the most efficient and responsible way. The NJ National Guard is committed to ensuring that our actions have the least impact on our environment and through the proactive use of renewable energy technology and deliberate energy conservation programs we are able to secure a sustainable future.”

 

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