Although many see the military as our first line of defense in matters of national security, there are some who say dependence on fossil fuels actually puts that security in jeopardy. While the political battles wage on in Washington, every branch of the military is searching for ways to shift its own consumption from fossil fuels to renewable energy.
To that end, the US Navy has teamed up with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to evaluate its energy efficiency and increase alternative energy use on shore.
The Department of Defense accounts for 80 percent of federal energy use, and it spent $19.4 billion on energy in 2011, according to NREL. By working with NREL, the DoD hopes to reduce the cost of operating more than 300,000 buildings and 200,000 other structures around the world.
For nearly a century, the DoD has had to rely on and spend taxpayer money to obtain petroleum products from foreign nations in order to meet this demand. In recent years, however, the DoD has realized that relying on a singular national energy grid and imported oil puts its facilities and critical infrastructure at risk.
“NREL is excited to help the Navy advance its energy goals by providing test beds to demonstrate energy technologies,” said DoD Energy Program Director Steve Gorin. “We believe a few things can happen. First, we can make an impact by helping the nation’s single largest energy user be more efficient. This will reduce risk to the military when adopting new technology, and it will help it meet energy goals through demonstrations and then replication. Finally, helping organizations like the Naval Facilities Engineering Command [NAVFAC] to be early adopters of these technologies will help to catalyze civilian commercialization.”
The Navy’s long-term energy goals include:
- Evaluating energy efficiency and use when awarding Navy contracts for systems and buildings
- Increasing alternative energy use on shore by producing at least 50 percent of shore-based energy from alternative sources
- Ensuring that 50 percent of Navy and Marine Corps installations will be net-zero energy
If only the rest of the government had similar ambitions!
Image via Wikimedia Commons