Here’s further confirmation that the military is a driving force behind cleantech development in the United States: Annual spending on renewable energy by the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) will reach $10 billion by 2030, with $6.1 billion going towards powering mobile and/or temporary facilities, according to a new forecast from Pike Research. Portable power for soldiers and vehicles will make up the largest part of this spending, Pike said, but a significant part will also go towards powering permanent bases and facilities.
Pike said it recently conducted a study examining the potential applications for renewable energy within the military’s scope through 2030, looking at the possibilities in solar power, wind power, biomass and more. It noted that in September, the U.S. Army formed a new, Pentagon-wide Energy Initiatives Task Force to assess renewable energy projects, look into potential suppliers and develop new technology to help the Army power more of its bases and missions with renewable energy and decrease its overall dependence on fossil fuels, shrink its carbon footprint, and be more cost-effective and efficient in its power use.
The DOD spends about $20 billion each year on energy, estimates Pike, with 75 percent of that money going towards fuel costs and 25 toward infrastructure. Over the next 20 years, the Pentagon plans to focus on solar power for both permanent and temporary facilities, microgrids for those facilities, fuel cells for individual soldiers’ use, and biofuel for military vehicles. The Navy’s “Green Fleet,” for example, launched an initiative recently to have a large part of the fleet’s power to come from biofuels by 2016.
Pike Clint Wheelock said the DOD could become a frontrunner in the advancement of clean technology in the United States. “In particular, military investment in renewable energy and related technologies can help bridge the ‘valley of death’ that lies between research & development and full commercialization of these technologies,” Wheelock said.