The U.S. Armed Forces Moves to Oust Fossil Fuels for Renewable Energy and Biofuels

The United States Armed Forces has the single largest collection of vehicles in use than any other organization in the world and accounts for nearly 80% of the U.S. government’s energy consumption on a yearly basis. It is no surprise, then, that the armed forces have been looking into the use of renewable energy sources and biofuels over the last couple of years. Although, ultimately the bonus of any wide scale conversion to renewable energy would have a huge impact on climate change and overall emissions the real goal in mind for most military projects is efficiency, security, and cost. So far, the armed forces are far from any major conversion and most of their projects are hybrids, instead of running purely on any renewable energy, but they are taking several steps into a future without a reliance on fossil fuels.

Last Thursday, the U.S. Army announced that they were going to begin testing a hybrid M1A1 Abrams tank that would utilize hydrogen generated electricity to run the onboard systems. The idea is to eventually adapt the technology for use in other combat vehicles and take a step towards creating a 100% renewable energy run system. Considering the fact that the Abrams is well known for burning fuel, this would be beneficial in the long run on costs alone. A project that is a little closer to achieving the goal is the Clandestine Electric Reconnaissance Vehicle (CERV) that was unveiled in January. The vehicle uses a diesel and electric power while still being able to achieve many of the same requirements that other military all terrain vehicles are required to do.

There have also been multiple explorations into the use of biofuels by the Armed Forces. In an earlier article, I wrote about the flight of an A-10 Warthog powered entirely by biofuel. The U.S. Navy has also run extensive tests of an hybrid biofuel powered F/A-18 Super Hornet with hopes of eventually making their massive air fleet less reliant on fossil fuels. This also matches their goal of creating an entire strike fleet that runs only on biodiesels and other renewable energy sources by the end of 2016.

Although the desire to get away from reliance not only on foreign oil, but fossil fuels in general, drives the U.S. Armed Forces to develop biofuel or alternative fuel programs, they are also looking into the use of renewable energy for other applications. Starting in September, Wheeler Air Base in Hawaii will be host to a new Micro-Grid power design that aims to cut the use of fossil fuels for power generation at remote military bases in favor of using solar power. Developed by Honeywell, a major aerospace research company, the Army hopes that the technology can be used to reduce the number of fossil fuel powered generators they will need to establish and run bases around the world.

With the Armed Forces moving forward in their plans to utilize renewable energy and biofuels over the next several years, it is possible to foresee a newer, greener military force sometime in the future. It is also possible, given the fact that military technology has migrated over to the civilian world over time, that having both the military and civilian sectors working together on renewable energy projects that more could be achieved and to a better end in time.