US Army Prepares for Large Scale Renewable Energy

The US military on Wednesday continued down the path toward greener operations.

John McHugh, Secretary of the Army, announced a new task force to coordinate development of large-scale renewable energy projects.

The Department of Defense is by far the largest energy consumer in the federal government – the Energy Initiatives Office (EIO) Task Force will address rising energy security challenges, escalating fuel prices, and stricter federal mandates.

It will be part of the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations and will be fully operational by September 15, 2011.

"The Energy Initiatives Office Task Force will help the Army build resilience through renewable energy while streamlining our business practices so developers can invest in and build an economically viable, large-scale renewable energy infrastructure," says McHugh. "To meet a goal of 25% renewable energy by 2025, the Army must use every opportunity to be energy efficient and draw power from alternative and/or renewable energy sources."

To reach its renewable energy goal, the Army estimates it will need to invest $7.1 billion over the next 10 years. This level of investment is expected to result in 2.1 million megawatt hours of power a year.

The Army is currently pursuing renewable energy infrastructure, but says it often lacks needed expertise. The EIO Task Force will fill this expertise gap and provide resources focused on working with the private sector to execute large-scale renewable energy projects.

This is expected to result in increased interest by project developers and improved financial options for the Army.

Through the EIO Task Force, the Army plans to conduct "aggressive" outreach to attract and engage private industry in support of the Army’s renewable energy needs.

Other sustainable initiatives under the Department of Defense include the Navy’s use of algal-derived fuels for ships and airplaines; major solar installations under development by the Air Force; and six Army bases shooting for "net zero" energy impact.

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