The US army is becoming sustainable. Not so much, and not only due to its renewed attention toward the environment but, above all, to reduce the loss of human lives and energy bill costs. A conversion to renewables and the possibility of installing solar panels would, instead, avoid dangerous transfers, ensuring a continuous energy supply which is otherwise at risk. Between 2003 and 2007, according to the latest NATO annual report, over 3 thousand American soldiers were killed or injured during fuel transfer operations in war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan.
US Army: a $4 billion energy bill
In order to understand how renewables could really mark the conversion and cut the Pentagon’s costs, it suffices to consider that there are approximately 300,000 army headquarters and 500 bases, both in the US and abroad that need to be supplied with energy and equipment every day. Among the most critical budget items for the US Ministry of Defense, the cost of oil, which accounts for 53% of the total expenditure on fuel. The percentage rises to 84%, if the consumption of the Air Force is also considered. In total, the US army consumes around 100 million barrels of crude oil per year, with a bill amounting to $4 billion.
$7 billion for "green" technologies from the Pentagon
The US Department of Defense plans to allocate $7 billion between now and 2025 to increase research and development in "green" technologies, in order to develop alternative sources of energy for military purposes. This would involve solar panels, wind turbines, batteries and new engines capable of being energy independent. Involved in these development plans is also NATO’s Science for Peace and Security Program, aimed precisely at innovations with technologies focused on safety and sustainability that can be useful in both civil and military fields.
Innovations on the field: from showers to renewable batteries for the US Navy
Yet some innovations "on the field" in terms of renewables were introduced several years ago. Since 2009, for example, soldiers have been able to recharge various electronic equipment and radios thanks to a series of flexible, portable solar panels. Showers with systems capable of recycling water and batteries for powering air conditioners and computers are also currently being tested. There are also hybrid vehicles - with an electric/gasoline system - branded BAE Systems. Meanwhile, a few weeks ago, a test was performed by the US Navy on the first battery that uses renewable sources (including wind and solar energy), constructed by Boeing after 16 months of development.
In the meantime, in recent weeks, the US Navy also launched the so-called "Great Green Fleet," a fleet which also includes USS Nimitz, and which sails thanks to a mix of fossil fuels and biofuels. The “green‘ fleet also includes USS Princeton, USS Chafee, USS Chung Hoon, and the replenishment ship USNS Henry J. Kaiser.