In an effort to combat rising fuel prices, the U.S. Army has announced plans to invest a substantial amount of money in renewable energy sources. The creation of the new Energy Initiatives Office Task Force will be responsible for developing renewable energy projects for the Army. The task force is a part of the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy, and the Environment. The EIO task force is expected to be fully operational by September 15th, at which point the Army will be on its way to creating a more sustainable future for the military.
The creation of a task force designed to focus on renewability will help the Army achieve its goal of 25% renewable energy by 2025. The goal of achieving 25% renewable energy by 2025 is a Defense Department goal which was mandated by the National Defense Authorization Act of 2007. Additionally, the Army is subject to fines by the Environmental Protection Agency if it fails to meet certain standards. The EPA has dictated that by the beginning of 2013, at least 7.5% of the Army’s power supply must be derived from renewable energy sources.
The task force overseeing the renewable energy projects will be made up of the Army’s own financing and renewable energy experts. Katherine Hammack, the assistant secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy, and Environment, has noted that there have been previous “logistical challenges in advancing the projects” the Army has taken on before. With the aid of the task force, the renewable energy projects carried out in a more organized and streamlined fashion.
In addition to protecting itself from the rising cost of fuel, the Army is also committed to achieving energy security. This means that there will always be enough energy available for the Army to continue its missions, even if the civilian power grid is not functioning. Army Secretary John M. McHugh has described the need for energy security for the Army as “operationally necessary, fiscally prudent and vital to mission accomplishment.”
In order to focus on creating sustainable energy sources, the Army plans to invest approximately $7.1 billion in renewable energy projects over the next ten years. An investment of this size is expected to generate 2.1 million megawatt hours of power annually.
Army Secretary McHugh has announced that the Army will partner with the private sector to develop renewable energy projects. According to McHugh, a partnership between the Army and private sector will “serve as a one-stop shop to allow the private sector to come and find opportunities for partnership in a variety of renewable energy and alternative energy programs.” McHugh went on to note that “for the private sector, it’s a guaranteed customer and opportunity to sell excess power to the outside grid.” Furthermore, a partnership between the Army and the private sector will ensure that the Army has access to clean energy that has been produced, which will be procured at a fixed price. Meanwhile, the developer of the clean energy will have the assurance of a guaranteed customer in the Army.
Currently, the Army has 126 renewable energy projects underway. One of the biggest projects is a solar energy project, an installation at Fort Irwin in California that, when completed, will cover the same amount of land as Manhattan.
Investing in renewable energy is a prudent choice for the Army, which is one of the biggest consumers of power in the country. The federal government, the nation’s largest consumer of energy, accounts for approximately 1.5% of the nation’s power usage. The Department of Defense is responsible for 80% of the federal government’s power usage; the Army’s power consumption accounts for 21% of that figure. Investing billions of dollars into hundreds of renewable energy projects is the first step to greening the military.
Photo Credit: epa.gov/region9/annualreport/09/images/CSNellisSolarPanels6.jpg