Department of Defense Releases Clean Energy Implementation Plan

Noting that almost every military capability relies on energy, the Department of Defense (DOD) released its Operational Energy Strategy Implementation Plan last week, which will "transform the way" it uses energy.

The plan will implement DOD’s energy strategy, released last June. This is the first time in DOD’s history that it’s developed a strategy to optimize energy use through efficiency and renewables.

"Reliance on fossil fuels is simply too much of a vulnerability for a military organization to have," U.S. Navy Secretary Raymond Mabus said.

DOD is committed to getting 25% of its energy from renewables by 2025; the Air Force plans to use biofuels for 50% of domestic aviation by 2016 and the Navy will reduce fuel consumption on ships 15% by 2020, while reducing dependence on fossil fuels 50% over the next decade.

Here are details on DOD’s sustainablity programs.

In Afghanistan, U.S. forces have efficient energy generators, microgrids, shelters, air conditioners, and tactical solar to reduce fuel use on the battlefield and cut the number of fuel convoys vulnerable to attack.

The Navy is investing over $500 million in biofuels and has deployed shipboard hybrid-electric drives, stern flaps and hull and propeller coatings to improve efficiency.

Last November, a destroyer ship ran on 20,000 gallons of a blend of 50-50 algae-based fuel (from Solazyme) and petroleum in its biggest test to date. This year, a small carrier strike group of small ships, destroyers, cruisers, aircraft and submarines will run on biofuels. By 2016, the Navy wants to deploy a "Great Green Fleet" of nuclear vessels, hybrid electric ships and other ships and aircraft powered by biofuels.

By optimizing flight patterns, routing, and cargo loading, the Air Force will avoid $500 million in fuel costs in the next five years. Gevo won the first contract to supply biofuel-based jet fuel.

The Air Force is set to certify all of its 40-plus aircraft models to burn biofuels by 2013, three years ahead of target.

Last year, the Army created a task force to coordinate development of large-scale renewable energy projects and began its Net Zero program.

DOD’s implementation plan has 7 specific targets including:

  • establishing a baseline for the amount of energy it uses by the second quarter of this year;
  • improve energy efficiency in operations through concrete goals and metrics;
  • identify investments needed to reduce energy demand, improve system efficiency, and expland supply alternatives.
  • promote development of alternative fuels through policy and investments;
  • incorporate energy efficiency and renewables into purchasing policies

DOD has begun to use microgrids and minigrids to support its troops on the battlefield and in domestic installations. These smaller, less-automated types of smart grids distribute energy from gas, solar and wind-powered generators.

The Army Corps of Engineers, for example, recently announced $108 million in projects to centralize power generation, or so-called ‘minigridding,’ at bases throughout Afghanistan.

"These projects will generate and distribute power efficiently, taking millions of gallons of fuel and thousands of fuel trucks off the road on an annual basis, and we’ll see a return on our investment in under a year," says Sharon Burke, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Operational Energy Plans and Programs.

Here’s the implementation plan:

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