Good news: DOD readying to quadruple renewable energy installations

posted at 1:11 pm on January 31, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

Last summer, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta lamented that, in terms of the Pentagon’s budget, the pending sequestration cuts “were designed as a meat ax… It was designed to be a disaster. Because the hope was, because it’s such a disaster, that Congress would respond and do what was right. And so I’m just here to tell you, yes, it would be a disaster” — but apparently, not enough of a disaster that the Pentagon can’t afford set some money aside to beef up their green-energy goals.

The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) currently spends approximately $20 billion per year directly on energy, consuming 3.8 billion kilowatts hours (kWh) of electricity and 120 million barrels of oil per year. The effort to reduce energy costs and reliance on fossil fuels – often purchased from countries hostile to U.S. interests – and increase energy security, particularly for forward operating bases (FOBs), is driving sweeping changes to DOD policies around energy. In particular, the DOD has ambitious plans to increase its use of renewable energy. According to a recent report from Pike Research, a part of Navigant’s Energy Practice, the total installed capacity of renewable energy sources for the U.S. military will grow from 80 megawatts (MW) in 2013 to more than 3,200 MW by 2025 – increasing more than four-fold in 12 years.

“U.S. military spending on renewable energy programs, including conservation measures, will reach almost $1.8 billion in 2025,” says research analyst Dexter Gauntlett. “This effort has the potential to not only transform the production, consumption, and transport of fuel and energy within the military; it will likely make the DOD one of the most important drivers of cleantech in the United States.”

The Army, Navy, and Air Force have each established targets of 1 gigawatt of installed renewable energy capacity by 2025.

Now, the obvious objection here is that renewable energies are more expensive than conventional fuels (which, they are), and the DOD consumes a heck of a lot of energy (which, it does), meaning that the taxpayer is footing an unnecessarily large bill for the Pentagon trying to greenify its operations. Administration officials counter, however, that Defense operations have extra considerations other than mere prices. Diversifying your energy usage portfolio may indeed be able to help enhance energy security and self-sufficiency — but the problem is that the Pentagon is not merely pushing for more heightened energy security through the most cost-effective means in all cases. They are specifically pushing for more of the Obama administration’s designated renewable energies.

I doubt very much that all of this striving to “green” our defense operations was as much the result of a careful, long-term cost v. benefit analysis than it was the Obama administration’s political agenda to both tout their greenie credentials and create an artificially more robust market for still expensive renewable energies. Why, for instance, is it the Department of Defense’s job to become “one of the most important drivers of cleantech in the United States”? Hint: It isn’t.

Addendum: Hagel’s confirmation hearings to fill the Secretary of Defense job are underway today; how will he run the Pentagon’s greenifying programs (besides, you know, however Obama might tell him to)? Via Politico:

The former Republican senator from Nebraska is known in environmental circles as a skeptic on climate change science who played a key role killing the Kyoto Protocol, pulling then-President George W. Bush to the right on greenhouse gases and shepherding energy policies into law that were much less ambitious than what advocates sought.

Some enviros who backed President Barack Obama say they fear Hagel won’t be an advocate for their cause if he ends up leading the Pentagon…

Liberals have fought for years to green the Pentagon, because it’s the largest consumer of energy within the American government. Abroad, many greens believe the Pentagon could be a force for change as it grapples firsthand with the instability and violence brought on by drought and fierce tropical storms — symptoms scientists attribute to global climate change. …

Obama isn’t hiring Hagel to lead the Pentagon because of his views on global warming. But the nomination is still striking, given the president’s emphasis on the issue during his second inaugural address…


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The Capitol is still heated with coal.

Schadenfreude on January 31, 2013 at 1:13 PM

*shaking the head*

hello, mcfly?

cmsinaz on January 31, 2013 at 1:15 PM

Of course liberals had to corrupt Defense. Its competence was making the rest of government look bad.

Socratease on January 31, 2013 at 1:17 PM

You would think that installing windmills in DC would actually be quite energy efficient considering all the hot air blowing there…

dominigan on January 31, 2013 at 1:18 PM

Could we get a WINDMILL FARM in the middle of the Pentagon?

THAT would really make a statement.

Do it!!

PappyD61 on January 31, 2013 at 1:20 PM

I’m glad I don’t have children.

tom daschle concerned on January 31, 2013 at 1:21 PM

DC elites continue to be a bunch of fiscal deniers….as long as they don’t have to make real choices………full speed ahead.

CoffeeLover on January 31, 2013 at 1:21 PM

Wind powered submarines, or as Bark likes to call them, “ships that go underwater”.

Bishop on January 31, 2013 at 1:22 PM

The cause of Chicago’s high rate of gun crime is man-made global warming.

petefrt on January 31, 2013 at 1:23 PM

Now, the obvious objection here is that renewable energies are more expensive than conventional fuels (which, they are), and the DOD consumes a heck of a lot of energy (which, it does), meaning that the taxpayer is footing an unnecessarily large bill for the Pentagon trying to greenify its operations.

Damn, I guess I’m obvious.

gekkobear on January 31, 2013 at 1:24 PM

General Bishop: “We’re already green, you fools, every time we kill a jihadi he bleeds into the ground and his corpse becomes all-natural fertilizer. Next question.”

Bishop on January 31, 2013 at 1:24 PM

I’m glad I don’t have children.

tom daschle concerned on January 31, 2013 at 1:21 PM

Dittos. It’s depressing enough to watch the country being flushed down the crapper, without having your children’s future to worry about.

petefrt on January 31, 2013 at 1:25 PM

Make the military green. It costs ten times as much to operate. It will then be ten times smaller.

Win win for the progressives.

tom daschle concerned on January 31, 2013 at 1:26 PM

The Capitol is still heated with coal.

Gosh, as long as we’ve got the Senate and House in session, thought it would be self warming with all that hot air being generated.

Wind powered submarines, or as Bark likes to call them, “ships that go underwater”.

Wind powered? Nah, that’ll be for surface ships. Baking soda powered submarines is the way to go.

Up next, DoD implements solar powered fighters and bombers and algae fueled armored vehicles.

hawkeye54 on January 31, 2013 at 1:26 PM

Hagel and Obama will destroy you.

Schadenfreude on January 31, 2013 at 1:30 PM

So how many less soldiers does this equate to?

Ward Cleaver on January 31, 2013 at 1:31 PM

I’m glad I don’t have children.

tom daschle concerned on January 31, 2013 at 1:21 PM

Remember how they used to say about nuclear war, “And the living will envy the dead”? We’re getting there, without a nuke ever being dropped.

Ward Cleaver on January 31, 2013 at 1:33 PM

Up next, DoD implements solar powered fighters and bombers and algae fueled armored vehicles.

hawkeye54 on January 31, 2013 at 1:26 PM

The DOD has invested in green energy for decades, given the geopolitical realities of oil. And this has nothing to do with Obama.

It wasn’t long ago when many ridiculed another program called DARPA- a plan to improve the nation’s defense through investments that included inter-connecting Ivy League research university computers with high speed cables. And some idiot thought that was a smart investment!

The Pentagon has long played a critical role in purchasing early stage technologies, one that China and other countries are not only trying to replicate, but to surpass the US in total investments.

bayam on January 31, 2013 at 1:45 PM

America is dead. The liberal/commies have won and there is no more America.

Axion on January 31, 2013 at 1:50 PM

The Pentagon has long played a critical role in purchasing early stage technologies, one that China and other countries are not only trying to replicate, but to surpass the US in total investments.

bayam on January 31, 2013 at 1:45 PM

The real reason this is a story obviously escapes you:

They are specifically pushing for more of the Obama administration’s designated renewable energies.

I’ll help you out here:
Obama believes man has caused the planet to warm (well probably not. He just needs a vehicle in which to control the populace more effectively).
Fuel blend requirements that will destroy engines are also a part of his plan.
You see, an alternative fuel & energy source is already available to the government. And it’s cheap.
NUCLEAR POWER.
But it’s so much easier to make up $hit like it’s better or will be better (wind & solar & algae) bcs after all, it’s not like wind & solar have ever really been given a chance.

You are evading the issue you obtuse ignorant fool.
You know damned well what Obama’s agenda is regarding this.
It is NOT to develop real alternatives.
IT’s a control game.
And he’s a liar & he lies about everything he says.
This $hit is no different.
But yet you continue to carry water for an anti-colonialist communist.

Badger40 on January 31, 2013 at 2:03 PM

bayam on January 31, 2013 at 1:45 PM

How about a link to how you live off grid and don’t suckle on the teat of big energy. Otherwise you are just another environmental hypocrite. Prove you walk the talk or quit posting on green energy.

chemman on January 31, 2013 at 2:13 PM

Yo, ye smart Generals, all ye of the DOD,

Save ya some coins and keep you from looking the fools ya may in fact be.

http://www.wattsupwiththat.com

It was,,”was” a fraud, every one seems to know but you guys and Obama.

The con did not pay out, the commies have moved on to immigration reform, get with the program, your out of touch.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on January 31, 2013 at 2:16 PM

Isn’t an increase from 80 MW to 3200 MW an increase of 40-fold? Either my math or AP’s math needs some remedial learning.

digitsiam on January 31, 2013 at 2:34 PM

Facts:

Carbon trades on EU market: $4 per ton,,,

Deutsche Bank quits carbon market:

http://www.pointcarbon.com/new/1.2162216

Deutche Bank co-chief named in carbon tax investigation

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/banksandfinance/9740904/Deutsche-Bank-co-chief-named-in-carbon-tax-investigation.html

Facts come easy if your not in on the con.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on January 31, 2013 at 2:43 PM

They are specifically pushing for more of the Obama administration’s designated renewable energies

That’s just dramatic propaganda to rile up the easily inflamed readers. There’s no specific ‘green energy’ that Obama has ruled out.
China is also pushing for more of Obama’s ‘designated renewable energies’. Maybe you can run off with that correlation and see where it leads you.

bayam on January 31, 2013 at 2:51 PM

I imagine giant algae scoops on the bows of our super-carriers, and just as the battles start they reach a high zebra mussel area with algae-free water-dead in the water.
Why?
Because windmills on those floating airfields wont work either.

The idea folks is to emasculate our military. Nothing he does is accidental or beneficial.

Don L on January 31, 2013 at 2:53 PM

This by and large doesn’t bother me. I’m stationed in SE Arizona, where solar and wind energy are relatively easy to come by, and here renewable energy products are mostly used in schools and other support facilities on post. I’m glad the investments made for renewable energy sources were made when fiscal times were better. Now as budget cuts are more and more prevalent, any KW of energy we can save from a windmill or solar panel here in a training unit is more money to be spent on fuel for the MRAPs and aircraft downrange.

Sgt Steve on January 31, 2013 at 2:54 PM

Somewhere a Navy analyst is trying to figure out how to integrate masts and sails on guided missile cruisers without interfering with a launch.

Dexter_Alarius on January 31, 2013 at 2:55 PM

Sgt Steve,

So, when the wind is not blowing?

So, when the clouds stay on during the monson season.

So, got transmission lines to move the electricty?

So, these wind mills, the maintance cost are what?

So, the solar pannels how often will they be required to be changed out and that cost is it in the budget now and at what cost.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on January 31, 2013 at 3:00 PM

Sgt Steve on January 31, 2013 at 2:54 PM

Part of the reason we have a fiscal mess is because of prior spending on junk science projects like this.

Do you have any actual knowledge of the money spent on the programs and how much they actually save?
Last year the Air Force Academy spent $18 Million to install a solar farm that was calaculated to save them $500,000 per year in electricity costs. $18M / $500K / year = 36 years for payback. Solar panels typically only last about 18 to 20 years at best – from the specs I’ve seen – and that’s assuming they aren’t destoyed by a major hail storm earlier – which happens a lot here.
So – how does that “investment” look when you actually calculate it out?

BTW – did you know the windmills cause blind spots in FAA and military radars up to 300 feet in the air? The large the windmill farm, the bigger the radar disturbance and blind spot. Does that sound like a good thing to have near any military base that does flight training – or even has an airfield of any kind?

dentarthurdent on January 31, 2013 at 3:36 PM

The Pentagon has long played a critical role in purchasing early stage technologies, one that China and other countries are not only trying to replicate, but to surpass the US in total investments.

bayam on January 31, 2013 at 1:45 PM

Yes – but the history is that the military only uses those technologies where they are necessary or provide an advantage.

For an example that’s actually relevant to this thread – the Air Force and their contractors have been leaders in developing solar cell technologies – NOT to build solar farms for bases, but because that is the most cost effective way to power satellites in space – and keep them up there and functional for longer periods of time. Any other power source weighs more and therefore requires more energy to get it into space, and eventually runs out of fuel, meaning the satellite dies sooner.

dentarthurdent on January 31, 2013 at 3:44 PM

I’ll believe in ‘green energy’ when Barry starts flying in Air Force One and the fuel tanks are full of algae.

GarandFan on January 31, 2013 at 4:34 PM

I’ll believe in ‘green energy’ when Barry starts flying in Air Force One and the fuel tanks are full of algae.

GarandFan on January 31, 2013 at 4:34 PM

cabins already full of crap at that point so its not a huge leap to make….

dmacleo on January 31, 2013 at 7:49 PM

bayam on January 31, 2013 at 2:51 PM

…drinking pond sludge again?

KOOLAID2 on January 31, 2013 at 11:22 PM