The US Department of Defense (DOD) has initiated ambitious programs to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and cut global warming pollution by
enhancing energy efficiency and harnessing clean energy technologies, according to a new report by The Pew Charitable Trusts.
“Reenergizing America’s Defense,” describes the goal of the US military--whose usage accounts for nearly 80% of the government’s energy consumption--to produce or procure 25% of its electric energy needs from renewable sources by 2025.
United States Defense Secretary Robert Gates has identified energy as one of the department’s top-25 transformational priorities and the armed forces have undertaken specific initiatives to save energy, mitigate climate change and reduce costs. The military is investigating and implementing energy-saving measures in all facets of its operations, both at home and abroad, including housing, vehicles, fuels, weapons, supplies and transmission grids.
“National security experts have been clear in their warnings -
America’s dependence on foreign sources of energy constitutes a
threat--militarily, diplomatically and economically,” said Phyllis
Cuttino, director of Pew’s climate and energy programs. “But, the
department is doing more than sounding an alarm; it has enacted energy
goals and is inventing, testing and deploying new technologies and
alternative fuels to meet those goals. The military is, in many
respects, leading the way and helping to reenergize America’s future.”
Some specific initiatives by the armed services featured in the report include:
- The U.S. Navy is developing a “green” carrier strike group to run completely on alternative fuels by 2016.
- The U.S. Army is developing a 500-megawatt solar power generation plant in Fort Irwin, California that will help power the base and reduce the base’s vulnerability to power supply disruptions. Named a ‘Net-Zero Plus installation’, the Army hopes to free the base entirely from reliance on the public electric grid within the next decade.
- The U.S. Air Force has a goal of meeting 25% of base energy needs with renewable energy sources by 2025.
- The U.S. Marine Corps has launched the 10X10 campaign aimed at reducing energy intensity, water consumption and increasing the use of renewable electric energy.
“The stakes could not be higher,” said Navy Secretary Ray Mabus. “Energy reform will make us better fighters. In the end, it is a matter of energy independence and it is a matter of national security."
With an annual energy budget of approximately $20 billion, the Defense Department incurs more than $1.3 billion in additional energy costs for every $10 increase per barrel rise in the world market price of oil. In addition to vulnerability to price fluctuations, the department’s reliance on fossil fuels also compromises combat effectiveness by restricting mobility, flexibility and endurance on the battlefield. Transportation of fuel to the combat theater is a significant vulnerability as fuel convoys are targets in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Today’s military leaders clearly understand that forward-looking approaches to energy and climate can save American lives and money as well as reduce emissions,” said Cuttino. “This leadership and ingenuity of the military must be mirrored by Congress and the Administration. If we are going to seize the opportunity presented by the emerging clean energy economy, we need a strong policy framework that puts a price on carbon, invests in energy innovation and helps deploy low-cost, low-carbon energy sources to help strengthen our nation’s security, economy and environment.”
Defense and intelligence experts have found that situations of instability can worsen from the impacts of climate change as water and food supplies decline, storm intensity increases, agricultural patterns are disrupted and migration increases due to conflict or resource shortages.
In February 2010, the department’s four year strategic planning document, the Quadrennial Defense Review, for the first time officially recognized climate change as a key issue playing a significant role in shaping the future security environment. It declared “Climate change… may act as an accelerant of instability or conflict, placing a burden to respond on civilian institutions and militaries around the world.”
The report is available at the link below.