People all over the world respect the U.S. military, but not just for the justice they bring against criminals and enemies of the state. The U.S. military is also famous for their innovations beyond the realm of war; for example, the care to which they give their troops and their contributions to civil engineering are extraordinary.
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:
When it was finished in December of 2007, the solar PV system at Nellis Air Force Base, rated at 14.2 megawatts (MW) and generating more than 30 million kilowatt-hours of electricity per year, was one of the wonders of the modern world.
The U.S. Air Force is threatening to halt construction of a 845-megawatt wind farm in eastern Oregon that would be the world’s largest wind project, citing concerns that the wind turbines would interfere with a nearby military radar station.
Clean energy advocates are concerned that the confrontation could jeopardize other major wind projects in the region and elsewhere in the U.S., threatening 16,000 jobs and undermining President Obama’s push to develop renewable sources of energy.
Concerned that the blades of the 338 massive wind turbines might interfere with radar signals when positioned at certain angles, the Department of Defense moved to reject a Federal Aviation Administration permit.
On Tuesday, Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan and Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Energy, Installations and Environment Jackalyne Pfannenstiel kicked off the first of several energy forums in front of a packed room to look at ways to increase biofuels production and meet the Navy’s renewable energy needs. The forum comes as a result of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) recently signed by the USDA and the Navy to encourage the development of advanced biofuels and other renewable energy systems.
As the President pointed out in his energy security remarks last week, “…the Pentagon isn’t seeking these alternative fuels just to protect our environment; they’re pursuing these homegrown energy sources to protect our national security. Our military leaders recognize the security imperative of increasing the use of alternative fuels, decreasing energy use, reducing our reliance on imported oil, making ourselves more energy-efficient.”
A recent Jewish Telegraphic Agency article by Dina Kraft on clean technology takes a good look at a number of projects by Israeli clean tech industries and Israel’s military branches in the realm of renewable and alternative energy.
“Beating swords into green plowshares in Israel,” the article talks about solar energy energy companies such as Bright Source Energy, which is involved in building solar energy plants in California’s Mojave Desert and other locations; and Rotem, which utilizes technologies developed in Israel’s aeronautical defense industry.
Did you know that America’s largest installed solar power plant is located on Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada? The 14-megawatt solar array (shown at left) went live in late 2007 and remains the largest solar power plant in the United States.
While First Solar’s recent announcement of two 250-megawatt solar power plants in California dwarfs the military’s solar array, the fact remains that for a considerable amount of time the military will have operated the largest solar array in the United States. Why would the military take this step? The answer is energy security.