As the single largest consumer of energy in the United States, the Department of Defense (DOD) knows that improving efficiency and harnessing new energy technologies is imperative – not only to achieve significant cost savings, but to give our troops better energy options on the battlefield, at sea, in the air, and at home.
At DOD’s fixed installations alone – including, barracks, offices, and hospitals – energy bills come in around $4 billion each year. Given this large footprint as well as the importance of safe, secure, and affordable energy sources to mission readiness, the Department has made one of the largest commitments to clean energy in history, by developing a goal to deploy three gigawatts of renewable energy – including solar, wind, biomass, and geothermal – on Army, Navy, and Air Force installations by 2025 – enough to power 750,000 homes.
When it comes specifically to solar power, a new report today from the Solar Energy Industries Association underscores the progress that DOD is making towards its goals.
“Enlisting the Sun: Powering the U.S. Military with Solar Energy” highlights solar energy’s growing role in powering military installations and military homes across America. According to the report, as of early 2013, there are more than 130 megawatts (MW) of solar photovoltaic (PV) energy systems powering Navy, Army, and Air Force bases in at least 31 states and the District of Columbia. Combined, these installations provide enough clean energy to power more than 20,000 American homes.
Beyond the direct benefits to our military, DOD’s investments in clean energy benefit the country as a whole, by catalyzing private sector investment to more quickly commercialize advanced technologies for a variety of commercial applications.
In his first term, President Obama made the largest investment in clean energy in our history, which enabled the United States to double its use of renewable energy from wind, solar, and geothermal sources, and create tens of thousands of jobs across the country. During the same period, the cost of solar modules has fallen by more than 400%, helping the solar industry achieve its best year in the United States in 2012.
Moving forward, as the military continues to adopt clean energy technologies and lead by example, President Obama believes the United States as a whole must do the same. In fact, by supporting proven clean energy tax incentives and funding basic research and development, we can double renewable generation from wind, solar, and geothermal again by the end of the decade. These policies will help advance our energy security, respond to the threat of climate change, and compete for the jobs of the 21st century.