While many government officials nervously await the outcome of the November elections and speculate as to its implications for the cleantech sector, one federal department is likely to be relatively unaffected regardless of the outcome: Defense.
According to panelists at the recent “Mission Critical: Clean Energy and the U.S. Military“ event in Denver, the military’s growing commitment to reducing its use of fossil fuel, for both national security and economic reasons, will not waver regardless of who’s in charge in the White House or the Congress.
Senator Mark Udall of Colorado rattled off a series of statistics that underline the reasons for the military’s emphasis on becoming as green as the army’s uniforms:
- The military is 25 percent of government’s energy burden
- The Pentagon is biggest consumer of fossil fuels in the world, burning 300,000 barrels of oil per day at a cost of more than $30 million in fuel per day
- A $1 increase in the price of oil increases DoD’s energy cost by $100 million per year
- 1 out of every 50 convoys in a combat zone results in a casualty, and the Army has accrued more than 3300 fatalities in convoys since 2001
- Convoy and security costs $100 per gallon for combat zones
Udall emphasized that the military is implementing many fuel-reducing technologies because of the high human price paid in getting fuel to the front lines. “Saving energy saves lives,” he said, adding that adopting clean energy technologies is “one of the most patriotic things we can do.”
Despite any changes that might occur in the leadership in the executive or legislative branches, the military will continue to be an early adopter of clean technologies that enable it to become more energy independent. These includes making military bases self-sufficient (and less vulnerable to attack) by creating microgrids, and purchasing a large number of hybrid and electric vehicles for its non-combat fleet.
While investors may be endangering the cleantech industry by exiting or staying out of the market, the military remains committed to deploying solar and wind. The military will generate 25 percent of its energy from renewables by 2025, according to Mark Mahoney, director of the Army Regional Environmental and Energy Office. Mahoney said one benefit to renewable adoption is that a platoon can reduce the load it carries by 700 pounds simply by replacing portable generators with solar chargers.
Fort Carson, Colorado, recently achieved the challenging trifecta of becoming a “net zero” facility for energy, water and waste. Fort Carson became the second such army facility, joining Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas. The military’s unrelenting commitment to clean energy is consistent with its overarching mantra of preparedness. According to Mahoney, we can’t “afford to wait until the next international energy crisis … or national tragedy forces us to act.”
Article by John Gartner, appearing courtesy the Matter Network.