The greening of US defence

The Pentagon is forging ahead with its decade-long conversion to renewable power.

The Pentagon is the world’s largest petroleum buyer – and it is going green, reports The Fiscal Times.

The Pentagon’s annual oil bill averaged US$14.28 billion between 2007 and 2015. And as far back as 2003, US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, former commander of the Marine Corps Combat Development Command in Afghanistan and Iraq, prompted Navy researchers to find new ways to cut the military’s link to the “tether of fuel.”

The Pentagon’s green offensive has nothing to do with global warming issues. In many instances, gas is a logistical and operational hazard. Convoys of fuel to battlefield operations are easy enemy targets. In Afghanistan, one in 24 convoys suffered casualties in 2007. And marines fighting the Taliban found that solar-powered equipment allowed them to shut off electric generators that made detection by enemies easier.

The green conversion is already well underway. From 2011 to 2015, the armed forces nearly doubled renewable power generation to 10,534 billion British thermal units (BTU), the equivalent of powering 286,000 average homes. Many of the projects are on US bases, allowing for greater energy independence in the case of a natural disaster or an attack (or cyber attack) on the public power grid.

The effort began in 2007, when former president Bush signed a law requiring that 25% of the Pentagon’s electricity needs for its buildings come from renewable energy by 2025. The move accelerated under former president Obama, who ordered the Army, Air Force and Navy each deploy 1 gigawatt of renewable power, a goal the Navy was the first to meet last January. Even though President Trump and many of his top advisers have scoffed at green energy, it is unlikely that the greening of the Pentagon will be switched off from the Oval Office.