In the past year the U.S. Department of Defense has spent more than $20 billion on energy and has consumed over five billion gallons of oil according to an article released by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) (1). The military has redirected its focus towards renewable energy, specifically solar power, in an effort to combat rising energy costs, potential energy supply disruptions and the need for more secure and clean energy generation and distribution. The DOD has recognized the proven effectiveness of alternative energy and is committed to implementing large amounts of renewable energy sources into our armed forces.
Title 10 USC 2911 of the DOD mandates that 25 percent of total facility energy consumption comes from renewable energy sources by 2025. As stated in the SEIA article, “The Navy, Army and Air Force have each implemented aggressive plans that have put the U.S. military on a path to significantly expand its use of clean, renewable solar energy.” Many of these plans rely mostly on solar power. For example, the U.S. Air Force plans for PV to account for over 70 percent of its renewable energy capacity to be added from 2012 to 2017.
Already, the military has powered bases with large, centralized utility-scale projects. They’ve also applied smaller, distributed-generation (DG) systems to energize buildings and homes, as well as portable solar systems to provide energy on battlefields. These uses of solar along with many others allow the military to rely less on traditional generators which tend to be targets for enemy fire. As a result, the need for expensive, and not to mention dangerous, fuel resupply missions is lessened.
“As of early 2013, there are more than 130 megawatts (MW) of solar photovoltaic (PV) energy systems powering Navy, Army and Air Force bases in at least 31 states and the District of Columbia. Combined, these installations provide enough clean energy to power 22,000 American homes. These solar totals do not include installations at bases abroad, on the battlefield or at any classified locations” – SEIA.
Solar has and will continue to provide the military with operational energy, which improves the “tactical edge” and security of our armed forces. Solar technology is advancing every day and because of that, so is the protection of the individuals who fight for our country.