DOD Plays Key Role in Nation’s Pursuit of Clean Energy Technologies, Study Says

The military’s investment in clean energy increased 300 percent to $1.2 billion from 2006 to 2009, with annual investments projected to reach $10 billion annually by 2030, according to a new study released by the Pew Charitable Trusts.

Those numbers demonstrate DOD’s potential for spurring the growth of the nation’s green energy economy, concludes “From Barracks to the Battlefield: Clean Energy Innovation and America’s Armed Forces.” The report documents the department’s effort to accelerate the development and deployment of clean energy technologies in several areas including renewable energy at installations and energy efficiency.

Since 1985, the department has reduced its facility energy consumption by more than 30 percent; energy intensity — energy use per square foot — has dropped 11.4 percent since fiscal 2003. To continue this progress, the department has launched the Installation Energy Test Bed program, which has more than 45 demonstration projects under way. The initiative’s goal is to reduce demand by 50 percent in existing buildings and 70 percent in new construction.

The military’s 450 renewable energy projects as of fiscal 2010 allowed it to produce or procure 9.6 percent of its electric energy consumption from clean sources, including solar, wind, geothermal and biomass energy. The Navy accounted for 250 of the projects. One of DOD’s largest projects is the 14-megawatt solar array at Nellis AFB, Nev., but large-scale projects approaching 1,000 megawatts — such as the 500-megawatt, concentrated solar power project at Fort Irwin, Calif. — are in development, the report stated.

Renewable energy spending by the department is projected to reach $3 billion by 2015.

The department’s push to adopt microgrid technology — self-contained islands of energy generation and management capacity — is helping to spur industry growth and demonstrate technological feasibility, the study found. DOD’s use of smart microgrids is estimated to grow by 375 percent to $1.6 billion annually in 2020. Analysts believe the military will account for almost 15 percent of the microgrid market in 2013.

Dan Cohen
Dan Cohen

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