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Military on Track to Meet Clean Energy Goals

The Department of Defense has established ambitious environmental goals, increased its use of renewable energy and is testing and deploying new technologies and alternative fuels to reduce the military’s dependence on fossil fuels and cut greenhouse gas emissions, according to a report from the Pew Project on National Security, Energy and Climate.

The stakes are high considering the DOD accounts for nearly 80 percent of the U.S. government’s energy consumption and has an annual energy budget of roughly $20 billion, reports The Hill. The report also notes that for every $10 increase per barrel of oil, it costs the DOD more than $1.3 billion in additional energy costs.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has identified energy as one of the department’s top-25 transformational priorities and the armed forces — including the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps — have implemented specific initiatives to save energy, mitigate climate change and reduce costs across all operations including housing, vehicles, fuels, weapons, supplies and transmission grids.

The report, “Reenergizing America’s Defense” (PDF), evaluates several efforts by the Department of Defense to meet its goal of producing or procuring 25 percent of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2025. A major finding of the study indicates that each of the armed forces is playing a key role in moving the U.S. toward a clean energy society.

Several initiatives for each of the armed forces are cited in the report including the U.S. Navy’s plan to develop a “green” carrier strike group to run completely on alternative fuels by 2016.

The U.S. Army is developing a 500-megawatt solar power generation plant in Fort Irwin, California, that will help power the base and reduce power supply disruptions. The plan is to cut the Army’s reliance on the public electric grid within the decade, according to the report.

The Army also expects to have a fleet of 4,000 electric vehicles over the next three years, which is expected to prevent the emissions of more than 100,000 tons of carbon dioxide and cut the use of liquid fossil fuels by more than 11 million gallons.

The U.S. Marine Corps launched its 10×10 campaign — meeting 10 goals by the end of 2010 — aimed at reducing energy intensity, water consumption and increasing the use of renewable electric energy. Long-term goals include reducing energy intensity 30 percent by 2015, relative to a 2003 baseline, reducing water consumption intensity 16 percent by 2015, from a 2007 baseline, and increasing renewable electric energy to 25 percent by 2025.

The Air Force, which is the DoD’s largest energy user, spending about $9 billion on energy in 2008, has implemented an energy program and policy.

The Air Force Energy Plan 2010 program focuses on three areas: reducing demand, increasing supply and changing the culture. Goals include meeting 25 percent of base energy needs with renewable energy sources by 2025 and using 50 percent biofuel blends for aviation fuels by 2016.

The U.S. military across all armed forces has implemented several green initiatives over the past few years including the use of renewable energy such as solar and wind that officials estimate could save millions.

The Air Force leads all federal agencies in clean-power purchasing, with 37 bases meeting a percentage of their electrical requirements with renewable sources, according to the report.

Most recently, the Navy in partnership with several technology companies is working to harness ocean thermal energy to generate electricity for its naval bases, while the Air Force entered into a partnership to lease part of the Edwards Air Force Base for a massive solar array with an estimated production capacity of up to 500 megawatts.

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