Thursday, June 27, 2013

Military Leads Green Energy Conversion

On the QT, the U.S. military is leading the way toward a green energy future. Quietly, the military has been installing solar fields; converting their fleets to electric, biodiesel and natural gas; and researching alternative energy production and storage. Though less vocal than environmental groups, it has outpaced many sectors in its promotion of alternative energy, smart grids and reduced fossil fuel consumption.
The U.S. Department of Defense is still the single largest consumer of energy in the country. In addition to its massive energy expenditures, the military has long viewed energy independence as a matter of national security. In 2010, Sharon Burke, director of the DoD’s operational energy plans and programs, went on the record to state that the military needs to drastically reduce its fossil fuel consumption and carbon footprint.
“Certainly, for current operations and for the future, one of the things we’re really focused on is reducing [energy] demand, [which means] reducing our consumption, because no matter what kind of energy we’re using, the amount of energy we’re using causes us problems in practice,” Burke said.
In recent years, the military – along with many veterans advocates and nonprofit groups – has indeed worked to curb its energy consumption and rework its methods of harvesting power. According to Forbes, the Navy has committed to retrofitting its bases so that 50 percent of them will have a net zero energy expenditure by 2020. The military’s other branches have launched similar initiatives, such as the Air Force’s energy conservation program.
Even on an individual level, military service members and veterans have a guarded interest in renewable technology. The Adopt-a-Solar-Panel program has donated renewable energy to a number of veterans benefits and advocacy organizations, including the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion. Jobs in the renewable energy industry have also proven to be a great match for veterans returning from active duty. According to The Associated Press, renewable energy companies and organizations like Veterans Green Jobs have eagerly responded to hiring initiatives, and have helped offset the demographic’s high unemployment rate.
As the military community embraces green technology, it is helping to transform the way America does energy. According to Grist, one of the biggest changes to military energy use promises to be the widespread incorporation of microgrid systems. A microgrid works exactly as it sounds: Rather than drawing energy from the greater national grid system, a microgrid cycles energy throughout a smaller community – in this case, a military base. To ensure that widespread power outages don’t affect military operations, renewable energy sources like photovoltaic panels and electricity reserves will cycle throughout the base’s energy system, allocating energy where necessary and diminishing waste.- See more at: