Just in time for Earth Day celebrations, a major independent research group has named the Department of Defense a leader in energy conservation.
“The department is doing more than sounding an alarm; it has enacted energy goals and is inventing, testing and deploying new technologies and alternative fuels to meet those goals,” Phyllis Cuttino, director of Pew Charitable Trusts’ climate and energy programs, said during a conference call to announce the program’s new report on military use and conservation of energy.
According to Cuttino, DoD accounts for 80 percent of the U.S. government’s energy consumption, which amounts to 330,000 barrels of oil and 3.8 billion kilowatts of electricity per day for more than 500 major military installations. However, she said, the department is working to meet its stated goal of having one-fourth of its energy come from renewable sources by 2025.
The report, “Reenergizing America’s Defense: How the Armed Forces Are Stepping Forward to Combat Climate Change and Improve U.S. Energy Posture,” details how the department and military services are progressing toward that goal. Amanda J. Dory, deputy assistant secretary of defense for strategy; Navy Secretary Ray Mabus; and John W. Warner, a former Navy secretary, were involved in the report and the conference call.
The decreasing reliance on fossil fuels “will make us better warfighters,” Mabus said, by reducing dependence on oil from volatile nations, and by freeing up warfighters from delivering as much fuel and reducing the high-risk of attacks on convoys that carry it.
In Afghanistan, troops are using solar-powered water purification systems to decrease the use of fossil fuels and the need to haul water, Mabus said. Marines there are using things such as spray-on insulation to keep tents warm in winter and cool in summer, and Marines at Marine Corps Base Quantico in Virginia are testing alternative fuels and other products to reduce the need to ship fuel to Afghanistan, he said.
Additional examples of how the Navy is going green include developing a carrier strike group that will run completely on alternative fuels; powering the Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake by geothermal sources; and commissioning the USS Makin Island, a large-deck amphibious ship propelled by both gas and electric engines.
Dory said the Air Force also is also testing biofuels on its A-10 Thunderbolt II and expects to have the Air Force Academy off the public electrical grid by 2012. In addition, Army officials in North Carolina, Washington state and Hawaii are working on transportation patterns to reduce single-occupancy vehicles, she said.
“Everywhere you go, you see that the American GI is figuring out how to save energy,” Warner said. “Every base in the country has a plan to save energy. This whole Defense Department is mobilized and thinking green and I salute their efforts.”