In advance of their upcoming Tactical Power Sources Summit in Washington, D.C., the Institute for Defense and Government Advancement (IDGA) has released a fact sheet on energy and fuel use in the military, and the numbers are eye-opening. With $150 billion being spent on fuel and electricity over the next decade, the Department of Defense (DOD) is the largest energy user in the U.S. Operational fuel for all branches of the military is being used up at a staggering rate of 50 million gallons per month in Afghanistan, all while the price of fuel continues to increase. The military also faces challenges in supplying critical fuel to the front lines, as convoys are vulnerable to attack; U.S. convoys were attacked 1,100 times in 2010 according to U.S. Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM).
In light of these challenges, DOD is making a significant investment in renewable energy including solar, wind, biomass, geothermal, and fuel cell technology. Fuel cells have long been a part of DOD’s arsenal, having been tested on bases, in unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and for soldier power in rugged environments. The PEM fuel cell backup power project, initiated in 2011 by DOD and the Department of Energy (DOE), has installed over 200 kW of fuel cell power at nine military installations across the country. Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland will maintain power during grid outages thanks to the fuel cell demonstration, and will provide DOD with operational data to inform future installations. On the vehicle side, Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii has been operating a fuel cell hybrid electric shuttle bus since 2004, and recently received a fleet of GM fuel cell Equinox vehicles for use around the base.
IDGA’s 10th annual Tactical Power Sources Summit will explore the topic of renewable energy in the military further, and will feature speakers from the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps. The Summit takes place from January 28-30 at the Hilton Alexandria Mark Center in Alexandria, Virginia. Visit their website to register and learn more. And be sure to visit fuelcells.org for more information about fuel cells and their military applications.