Increasingly, it’s not just the uniforms in the U.S. Army that are green anymore. The Army, and indeed the armed forces in general, are increasingly looking to renewable energy like solar and wind to supply secure energy sources domestically and simultaneously providing safer, easier to transport energy sources in theater.
Most recently the Army said it wants to partner with private companies to implement $7 billion of renewable energy projects across the U.S.
“The Army would not be investing the money. What the Army is hoping to do is more in line with going out to private industry to partner with the Army for various installations,” said Army spokesperson Dave Foster.
He stressed that this is not a case of investing more taxpayer dollars into renewable energy.
The Army’s Energy initiative’s Task Force has a goal of procuring 2.5 million megawatt hours of renewable energy annually by 2025. That’s about 25 percent of its energy consumption. The task force already has held some meetings with private companies about the possibilities of partnering with companies on power-purchase agreements and enhanced use leasing and energy savings performance contracts.
At this point the Army doesn’t have targets, in terms of megawatts per technology, worked out, according to Foster.
“It will be worked over the next several months. There’s a summit in May,” he said.
The summit will let the industry know what types of projects the military is interested in working on with private companies.
The Navy also is making some big strides in reducing its use of fossil fuels, but the services aren’t competing for greenest service yet.
“There’s a lot of cooperation among the services. The key thing is going green is fine. The reason each of the projects we’re involved in, what they’re going to be quick to tell you is it’s to save soldiers’ lives,” Foster said.
The Army already is pushing forward on its net-zero energy goals, looking at how to introduce safer, lighter energy sources that don’t require refueling—like solar—into theater.
“What is driving us is saving soldiers’ lives and reducing the amount of weight, reducing convoys and the stuff they carry,” he said. At this point much of that is still in testing.
Domestically, the Army already is making an entrance as well. It announced a new renewable energy microgrid at its Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center’s (TARDEC) in Michigan later this year. The solar and wind powered microgrid will allow the facility to run even if the grid fails.