Renewable Energy in the Military

Michelle Ramadan
November 30, 2017

Submitted as coursework for PH240, Stanford University, Fall 2016


Fig. 1: Renewable Energy Solar Panels. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

As the United States' largest government consumer of energy, the Department of Defense decided to make efforts to increase renewable energy sources last year. Fig. 1 shows an example of one energy saving device with renewable energy. The DOD plans to deploy 3 gigawatts of renewable energy to power military facilities by 2025. This mandate hopes to decrease foreign oil dependency and energy distribution costs for the future. It has divided objectives for the Navy, Air Force, Army, and Department of Defense as a whole.


The Army Office of Energy Initiatives has implemented many projects to reduce energy costs, improve resiliency, reduce energy demand, and promote green power. Established in 2014, the OEI has made tremendous efforts on its Net Zero Initiative. Their goal of at least five net zero installations by 2020 will greatly decrease petroleum demand. The majority of the army's energy cost comes from the 21 million barrels of petroleum used in their installations annually.


The Navy's objective is centered around energy security, energy efficiency and sustainability while remaining a power on the seas. Their main goal is to increase alternative energy use to 50% of total energy consumption by 2020. The Navy also sailed the Great Green Fleet in 2016 to demonstrate the sea services efforts to transform its energy use. Deployed on alternative fuels, this initiative will usher in the next generation of energy innovation. The Greet Green Fleet was fueled by nuclear power for the carrier and a blend of biofuel made from beef fat and traditional petroleum. Energy Conservation Measures increase energy efficiency and cut down on energy costs. These new boats with less drag will save an estimate of $180,000 per ship per year. [1] The solar project is expected to save the Navy over $13 million in energy costs over the next 20 years. These efforts also allow sea operations to continue in case of a commercial grid disruption.

Air Force

Using over 2.4 billion gallons of jet fuel annually, the air force is the largest energy consumer in the Department of Defense. The air force has over 261 renewable energy projects to combat this. The projects include solar, wind, geothermal, and waste to energy. Working together with SunPower, multiple bases have transformed into Net Zero Energy with solar power such as the Colorado base. Likewise, the Cape Cod base uses wind power to gain net-zero status. This saves Cape Cod nearly $1 million annually on energy costs. The ultimate goal is to design all new air force stations with a zero-net-energy by 2030.


Energy is an essential yet costly element to military success. By investing in renewable energy, the military has already saved millions. These changes not only reduce costs, but also enhance operational success and environmental awareness. These projects have increased energy security and warfighter efficiency. The Department of Defense has made tremendous progress and will continue to do so until as energy efficient as possible.

© Michelle Ramadan. The author grants permission to copy, distribute and display this work in unaltered form, with attribution to the author, for noncommercial purposes only. All other rights, including commercial rights, are reserved to the author.


[1] A. M. Chambers and S. A. Yetiv, "The Great Green Fleet," U.S. Naval War College, 2011.