U.S. Military to Invest $10 Billion Annually in Renewable Energy by 2030

In September 2011 the U.S. Army announced that it has formed a new Energy Initiatives Task Force that will assess renewable energy projects, vet potential suppliers, and develop new technologies to support the Army’s growing commitment to powering its bases and its missions with renewable energy.  The Task Force is part of a Pentagon-wide effort to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels and embrace renewable energy sources as the military confronts the issues of energy costs, energy security for remote bases and operations, and the effects of energy on strategic goals.  According to a recent report from Pike Research, annual spending on renewable energy by the Department of Defense (DOD) will reach $10 billion by 2030.  While a significant portion of this will be spent on Facilities operations, including permanent bases, the majority of the spending will be for Mobility applications including portable soldier power as well as land, air, and sea vehicles.

“The DOD is positioned to become the single most important driver of the cleantech revolution in the United States,” says Pike Research president Clint Wheelock.  “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.”

Pike Research estimates that the DOD currently spends approximately $20 billion per year on energy – 75% for fuel and 25% for facilities and infrastructure.  Among the key sectors that will receive significant Pentagon attention and investment over the next two decades are solar power for both permanent bases and temporary facilities; fuel cells for individual soldier power; microgrids for military facilities; and biofuels for military vehicles, particularly the Navy’s “Great Green Fleet” initiative to shift to a largely biofuels-driven fleet by 2016.  The total market for renewable energy for mobile power for forward bases and temporary installations, for instance, is forecast to reach $6.1 billion by 2030.

By way of comparison, the total annual expenditure by China on renewable energy for military applications will reach $4.5 billion in 2030.

Pike Research’s report, “Renewable Energy for Military Applications”, provides a comprehensive examination of military applications for renewable energy and related clean technologies including solar, wind, biomass, geothermal, hydrokinetic energy, biofuels and synfuels, fuel cells, microgrids, smart meters, and energy efficiency, among others.  The study analyzes the economics and performance characteristics of emerging energy technologies across a host of application areas within the facilities, transport, and portable power domains.  It includes detailed profiles of key industry players and provides detailed market forecasts through 2030.  An Executive Summary of the report is available for free download on the firm’swebsite.

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