The US military spends up to $20 billion on oil every year, and as oil prices climb that amount is steadily increasing. But oil doesn’t just cost the Pentagon in the form of tax dollars — it presents enormous logistical hurdles and it has cost the military thousands of troops who have been killed while guarding fuel convoys overseas. So it comes as welcome news that today the Defense Department announced a goalto purchase a total of three gigawatts of wind, solar and geothermal energy to power domestic military bases by 2025.
The Obama administration’s energy policy – particularly its interest in developing new sources of renewable energy – has become an object of ridicule from conservatives, but the military initiative should be resistant to similar attacks. Pentagon officials have made it clear that ending the military’s dependence on oil isn’t done to further any environmental agenda; instead, it will make troops more secure by removing a serious vulnerability.
In addition to building new renewable energy plants for Army and Air Force bases, defense officials announced that the Army will open a lab near Detroit to develop new technologies for fuel-efficient combat vehicles. The 30,000-square-foot Ground Systems Power and Energy Lab will contain one of the largest environmental chambers in the world, which will enable researchers to test vehicles in extreme weather conditions. The Energy Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy lab also announced the launch of a $30-million research competition to improve energy storage for military operations and combat vehicles.