US Army Sees Green In The Private Sector

on September 17, 2011 at 10:00 AM

Led by Katherine Hammack, assistant secretary of the Army for installations, energy and environment, the US Army has been revamping its energy policy over the last few months.

So when funds ran dry, the army realized it had the choice to either hold off its efforts or look elsewhere for help. On Thursday, Hammack told an Energy Initiatives Task Force Roundtable that the army would be choosing the latter: it is now seeking $7.1 million in private sector investment to develop utility-scale renewable projects that will feed the army 2.1 million MWh of electricity.

“We are all aware of budget challenges we are facing today,” Hammack said. Renewable energy, though, she explained, is a critical piece of army security and cannot simply be abandoned because of budget difficulties.

The army helps spur innovation, so we are no restricting ourselves to the trite and true flat plate PV and 1 MW wind turbines. We are looking and very interested in nascent technologies.

“We know that there are growing challenges to the nations and the army’s energy supply,” Hammack said. “So it is essential that we protect reliable access to energy and water and other natural resources, to make sure soldiers of tomorrow have same access to resources as soldiers of today.”

The Army established the Energy Initiatives Office Task Force in August as the newest part of the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment. Read the full story: Securing The Energy Initiative.

Though the army lacks money it does have ample land space and it is hoping to offer up the real estate to renewable energy developers who will build utility scale projects. The army will sign a power purchase agreement with the developer with any excess energy being offered to the local community.

The army hopes that over the next 10 years innovators, entrepreneurs and existing renewable energy companies will offer to build their technologies on army land. A special committee, led by Richard Kidd, of six army staff who were all transitioned full-time solely for the task, will review proposals from the private sector. Over the coming months, the army will host special industry days where it will welcome energy companies to scout out possible projects.

Hammack emphasized that the army is not looking for wind, solar, geothermal or waste-to-energy technology specifically. Instead, it recognizes that different geographic regions work better with different technologies and should be utilized accordingly. For development, the army is focusing on output rather than capacity so that it can ensure a full 2.1 million MWh from renewable energy sources.

Hammack said that the committee has already been presented with technologies the army had never considered or even heard of before.

“The army helps spur innovation, so we are no restricting ourselves to the trite and true flat plate PV and 1 MW wind turbines.” Hammack said. “We are looking and very interested in nascent technologies.”

The US military has long been viewed as a source for technological innovation. Read more about how the US military is making strides towards energy efficiency technology: Safe and Secure: The US Military Takes a Stand on Energy Efficiency.

Reporting for this story was contributed by Stephanie Spanarkel.