This Memorial Day let’s honor those who have served and those who have fallen by getting on with removing one of the major causes of war: fossil fuels. The U.S. military is putting its money where its mouth is in buying solar power. Especially now that HB 57 is law and enables solar financing, the rest of us can do the same. And that will prevent casualties and prevent wars.
WTOC Staff, 15 May 2015, Ft. Stewart breaks ground on renewable energy solar project,
There will be nearly 140,000 solar panels covering about 200 acres. Georgia Power owns and operates the solar panels, and all of the energy generated will go to Georgia Power to be equally distributed to people across the region who use Georgia Power, including MidCoast Regional Airport, Fort Stewart, and any other residential customers.
“Let me put a little bit into perspective; so the Army is the largest utility consumer in the United States, we buy more utility services than anyone else, even WalMart,” Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army Richard Kidd said.
Why is the U.S. military doing this?
Cheryl Kaften, PV Magazine, 17 May 2013, SEIA report: U.S. military cuts casualties and costs with solar energy,
Most of us don’t know the agonizing price that military families pay for fossil fuel. In fact, one out of eight U.S. casualties during Operation Iraqi Freedom was sustained by a soldier protecting a fuel supply convoy.
Cumulatively, over the past decade, more than 3,300 U.S. troops have died during attacks on fuel convoys. The reality is that supply fleets represent large and vulnerable targets for snipers and insurgents with improvised explosive devices (IEDs)—and fully 80% of all supply trucks operating in the region are carrying fuel to remote military outposts where it is not readily available.
SEIA, 17 May 2013, Enlisting the Sun: Powering the U.S. Military with Solar Energy 2013,
In Afghanistan, not far from Khyber Pass, a company of U.S. Marines were the first ones to take portable solar panels and solar tent shields into a battle zone. As the New York Times reported at the time, “After a decade of waging wars in remote corners of the globe where fuel is not readily available, senior commanders have come to see overdependence on fossil fuel as a big liability, and renewable technologies — which have become more reliable and less expensive over the past few years — as providing a potential answer.”
Secretary Ray Mabus, for one, is supporting efforts to have 50 percent of the power used by the Navy and Marines come from renewable energy sources by 2020. This marks a seismic shift in Pentagon thinking about energy.
As the world’s largest energy consumer and one of the greatest catalysts of technological innovation, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) has the ability to transform markets through its procurement power alone. Consistently rated among the most trusted and respected organizations in America, the DOD adopts technologies that often find their way into civilian lives.
In recent years, the Navy, Army and Air Force have each implemented aggressive plans that have put the U.S. military on a path to significantly expand its use of clean, renewable solar energy. Each branch has outlined ambitious renewable energy targets that will drive 3 gigawatts (GW)1 of renewable energy installations by 2025. All of these targets have been designed to help meet a wider DOD mandate, title 10 USC 2911, that requires 25 percent of total facility energy consumption to come from renewable energy sources by 2025.
Let’s get to the root of the matter. Jeff D. Colgan, Belfer Center, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, October 2013, “Oil, Conflict, and U.S. National Interests”,
- Oil Is a Leading Cause of War. Between one-quarter and one-half of interstate wars since 1973 have been linked to oil.
- Fracking Does Not Change the Fundamentals. Although hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) is transforming the U.S. oil and gas sector, the United States will not be isolated from foreign markets and events. Its allies will continue to have vital energy needs, and disruptions in the integrated world market will continue to affect domestic markets. The United States therefore has an enduring interest in maintaining an open global oil market.
- Watch Out for Unexpected Sources of Conflict. The oil industry can cause or exacerbate conflict in multiple ways: competition over shipping lanes and pipelines, oil-related terrorism, petro-aggression, and resource scarcity in consumer states are all potential sources of international conflict.
So what does change the fundamentals? Solar and wind power getting rid of oil and gas, both domestically in the U.S. and worldwide. Then there will be no U.S. national interest in a global oil market, nor need to protect shipping lanes or pipelines. The student-led fossil fuel divestment movement is already doing more to prevent casualties and wars than billions in military appropriations.
The last thing we need is new pipelines, especially ones that are for export. New pipelines are obvious enemy targets, and fossil fuel exports would provoke yet another international fossil fuel market that U.S. forces would have to protect.
Jacob Sandry, Mosaic, 2 October 2013, Could Solar Energy Be America’s Greatest National Security Asset?,
America’s energy use poses threats to national security on numerous fronts. Aging transmission systems coupled with an increasingly computerized grid have left our country vulnerable to a crippling attack on our energy infrastructure. The Department of Defense is the largest energy consumer in the world and is hemorrhaging money on electricity and oil expenditures. Overseas, reliance on fuel is deadly and costly for military operations. And of course, there’s climate change, which poses numerous security threats to Americans. Solar energy offers a remedy for each of these monumental security risks.
Honor those who serve, and especially those who have fallen, by getting on with solar and wind power to reduce casualties, increase national security, and prevent wars.