The U.S. Department of Defense created a goal of reaching 25 renewable energy by 2025, and it has taken the charge seriously. The Solar Energy Industries Association released a report in May 2013 detailing how the military is utilizing solar power to build a stronger defense, practice cost savings and reduce its impact on the environment.
Though the armed forces use a variety of alternative energy sources, solar power has been a major player in the military’s mission to become more renewable. By the beginning of 2013, the Navy, Army and Air Force combined have installed more than 130 megawatts (MW) of solar energy systems in 31 states. That’s enough energy to power 22,000 American homes. But the military won’t stop there. By 2017 each branch’s solar contributions will add another 1.1 gigawatts (GW) of solar energy, which is the equivalent of all the solar power installed in the world in 2000.
The Renewable Energy Revolution in Military System
Air Force Renewable Energy
The Air Force is about to significantly ramp up its solar power. Though it currently has 38 MW of solar systems, it plans to add 26 MW more by the end of 2013. At this growth rate, solar will make up 70 percent of the Air Force’s renewable energy capacity by 2017.
Army Renewable Energy
The Army has more than 36 MW of solar systems but will add 55 MW of solar projects on military bases in the coming years. One of its biggest projects will be the installation of solar panels on 4,700 military homes in Fort Bliss in Texas, adding another 13 MW.
Navy Renewable Energy
The Navy has taken the DOD’s goal up a notch. It anticipates reaching 50 percent renewable energy consumption by 2020. So far, the Navy has more than 58 MW of solar systems, more than any other military branch. In addition, it has been awarded more than 20 MW of solar projects.
The financial impact of a greener military
Though renewable energy is often touted as expensive, the U.S. military has been able to secure solar power at prices well below retail rates for electricity, the SEIA report states. This is accomplished through a combination of long-term solar contracts and a significant decline in the price of solar systems, which have gone down by 40 percent since 2011.
A sustainable armed forces could result in lower operation costs, a significant feat since the military spent about $20 billion on energy and fuel in 2012 alone. Since solar power is infinitely renewable, each solar array the military invests in will pay for itself in energy savings. It’s possible that due to the DOD’s dedication to going green, taxpayer money could be directed elsewhere.
As one of the largest consumers of solar energy, the DOD is inadvertently creating more green jobs for American citizens. According the Solar Foundation’s National Solar Jobs Census Report in 2012, there are 119,016 Americans employed by the solar energy industry, with a 13.2 percent growth rate in that year alone. Though the military may not be the only organization helping ramp up green jobs, there is an obvious correlation to the military’s rising solar capacity and the growth of the renewable energy industry.
What do you think about greener military revolution in shifting to renewal energy unlike other government setups using the very common electricity means? Do you think other industry would adopt this mode in the common months, judging from the statistics outlined in this article? Please share your views with us.
Paul Batistelli freelances in the energy field for the promotion of a greener society and energy means. He works to raise awareness on ecological issues, energy dependency, and reducing carbon footprints. He currently resides in Dallas, TX with his lab, Copeland.
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