Deployment of clean energy technologies is accelerating across military installations operated by the U.S. Department of Defense, according to The Pew Charitable Trusts. Pew’s new report, “Power Surge,” examines how the military is using private-sector capabilities and harnessing innovative financing to obtain advanced energy systems. These projects are helping the Pentagon enhance mission assurance, save money, and meet congressional and executive branch goals. According to the study, the number of energy saving and efficiency projects at military installations more than doubled from fiscal year 2010 to fiscal year 2012, from 630 to 1,339. The number of renewable energy projects increased from 454 to 700 during the same period.
"The military's clean energy installation initiatives are gathering momentum, enhancing base energy security," said Phyllis Cuttino, who directs Pew's project on national security, energy, and climate. "These improvements are possible even as the Pentagon's budget is shrinking because the armed services are harnessing private-sector expertise and resources. This is a win-win-win proposition: The military gets better energy infrastructure, taxpayer dollars are saved, and the clean energy industry is finding new market opportunities."
John Warner, a former U.S. senator and secretary of the Navy and senior adviser to the project said, "The Department of Defense has a long history of embracing energy challenges and has been at the forefront of innovation. And so it is today that we find America's armed forces in the midst of the transition to renewable power and efficiency technologies that help ensure a stable, diversified, and continuous supply of electricity. I commend the men and women of the armed forces who are making these changes possible with their spirit of ingenuity and commitment."
The U.S. military incurs a $4 billion energy bill annually operating its bases. To lower energy costs and enhance security, the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps have initiated policies and measures to ensure near- and long-term progress in clean energy installation, including the widespread use of third-party financing in which private developers assume responsibility for funding and maintaining projects.
Installation energy security is a top-line priority. Ensuring access to reliable sources of energy and delivering it without interruption to meet operational needs on military installations in the United States and abroad is a priority for three reasons: mission assurance, cost savings, and compliance with laws and regulations.
Clean energy policies matter. Pew's research has demonstrated that policy matters. Whether at the state, national, or international level, strong clean energy goals and policies-including those set by the Department of Defense-are driving deployment of advanced energy goods and services. The Pentagon has developed a comprehensive and strategic Master Energy Performance Plan containing four elements: Reducing energy demand through conservation and efficiency. Increasing on-site electricity generation with renewable energy, through a goal of deploying 3 gigawatts of renewable energy-enough to power 750,000 homes-by 2025. Enhancing energy management by deploying advanced microgrids that incorporate sophisticated controls for managing demand, producing and distributing power, and allowing installations to operate independently of the commercial grid. Facilitating energy innovation through the Environmental Security Technology Certification Program and its Installation Energy Test Bed, which together catalyze breakthroughs in energy efficiency, management, and renewables that can be replicated across defense facilities.
Leveraging private-sector expertise and financing. Facing budgetary constraints, the U.S. military is working to secure third-party financing to acquire energy infrastructure enhancements and associated energy security benefits at little or no up-front cost. These include energy saving performance contracts and utility energy service contracts, through which the private-sector partner guarantees that the improvements will generate energy cost savings to pay for the project over the term of the contract. An estimated 80 percent of future Defense Department renewable energy projects will be financed through power purchase agreements that rely on private developers to finance, build, and maintain projects while saving the military money over the life of the contract.
Clean energy efforts are accelerating. The Department of Defense has made progress toward modernizing its energy infrastructure and realizing the benefits of clean energy technologies. According to Navigant Research, Pew's clean energy research partner for this report, in total, 384 megawatts of installed renewable energy capacity existed on the Pentagon's installations in mid-2013. By the end of 2018, it is estimated that renewable energy capacity on bases could increase more than fivefold, to 2.1 GW, enabling the military to meet its goal for deployment of 3 GW of renewable energy by 2025. During this time, solar photovoltaic and biomass are forecast to account for the majority of new, renewable energy installed capacity.