The World's #1 Renewable Energy Network for News, Information, and Companies.

U.S. Department of Defense Takes Forceful Lead as Early Adopters of Solar Energy

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has a tradition of accelerating technological advancements, serving as early adopters and impacting the broader commercial market in such areas as aviation, computing and GPS. For the past several years, the DoD has been playing this same role in the renewable energy space.

A new report from The Pew Charitable Trusts shows that DoD clean energy investments increased 300 percent between 2006 and 2009, from $400 million to $1.2 billion. Projections for 2030 are set to eclipse $10 billion annually, with an overall target of obtaining 25 percent of DoD energy from renewable sources by 2025. For the solar energy world, the DoD’s energy conservation investment program adds significant credibility to the conversation.

Driven by climate change and the need for energy security, the DoD’s plans are designed to strategically maximize military preparedness and effectiveness during military, disaster relief and humanitarian engagements. As the plans unfold, DoD will serve as a huge laboratory for innovation, laying the groundwork for widespread adoption of new ideas for optimizing efficiency and creating zero energy environments.  Efficiencies gained from a greater reliance on solar energy technologies will create energy independence and bring potentially enormous environmental benefits. Both issues have a direct influence on national security and the health of the U.S. economy.

Add to the equation the DoD as a massive energy spender. Right now, it has 300,000 buildings on its 500 plus installations, with 2.2 billion square feet of space, and spends nearly $4 billion a year on the energy needed to power them. These fixed installations are ideal test beds for next-generation energy technologies. Federal government energy goals have mandated energy reduction of 30 percent by 2015 and electric energy consumption from renewable energy increased to no less than 7.5 percent beginning FY 2013. These are ambitious numbers, but an analysis developed by the DoD’s Office of Installations and Environment demonstrates these goals are well within reach after determining that over 7,000 megawatts (MWAC) of solar energy development is technically feasible and financially viable at several DoD installations in the Mojave and Colorado Deserts of California.

The Office of the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Installations and Environment) has two key programs--the Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP) and the Environmental Security Technology Certification Program (ESTCP).  Last year, 575 proposals were selected for field tests in 2012.  These proposals were submitted by private firms, universities and federal organizations and covered five areas: smart microgrids and energy storage to increase the energy security of DoD’s installations; advanced component technologies to improve building energy efficiency; advanced building energy management and control technologies; tools and processes for design, assessment, and decision-making associated with energy use and management; and technologies for renewable energy generation on installations.

New construction projects, such as military family housing, require the use of energy efficiency products that are cost-effective. A number of military installations and bases are moving forward with plans to be “net zero,” consuming only as much energy as they generate, including Fort Bliss, a U.S. Army post with an area of about 1,700 square miles. The Enhanced Use Lease (EUL) program enables commercial companies to fund, build and operate projects in exchange for long-term leases of Army land. This program’s first renewable energy project is the Fort Irwin Solar (EUL) partnership with Clark Energy Group and Acciona Solar Power to build a solar electric power plant with a potential for 1,000+ MW of solar power production — the largest renewable energy project in the DoD’s history.


As the single largest consumer of energy in the United States, the DoD is in a unique position to introduce innovative, clean energy solutions on an enormous scale. By leading the way, they create the very real potential for curbing staggering energy costs and optimizing the nation’s overall defense strategy. These new policies will help to eliminate hesitation in the mainstream marketplace, leading to accelerated innovation and the creation of new and profitable markets. By maintaining its current trajectory, the DoD will continue to increase demand for partnerships, private sector financing and a considerable influx of investment dollars into leading-edge research, technology and business practices.

Michael Gorton, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of Principal Solar, is an entrepreneur, mentor and company builder, applying proven strategies in the fields of renewable energy, telecommunications, music and healthcare. Drawing on his extensive business expertise, scientific education and training, Michael serves as a strong voice and proponent of solar power.

Brigadier General (Ret) Becky Halstead is currently CEO/Founder of STEADFAST Leadership, a leader consultancy company.  Becky is an inspirational speaker, consultant and advisor.  She served in the U.S. Army for 27 years, leading over 20,000 soldiers and 5,000 civilians in Iraq, and commanding eight out of her last 11 years in the Army. She provides logistics and leadership expertise to the Principal Solar team.


First Anniversary of The Balkan Floods Highlights Renewable Energy Market Opportunities

Ilias Tsagas, Contributor One year ago this month, severe flooding in Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia killed 79 people, displaced about half a million and caused economic paralysis of the region. In the wake of these the catastrophic events, ...
Canadian Climate Goals

Canada Announces Weak Climate Target

Danielle Droitsch, NRDC Last week, Canada has announced its contribution to the global effort to reduce greenhouse gases by announcing its post-2020 target. The target announced today is off-track to the 80 percent cut by 2050 they committed to in...
Renewable Energy Stocks

What Drives Alternative Energy Stocks?

Harris Roen, The Roen Financial Report Alternative energy became a serious market player after the turn of the millennium. Since that time, solar, wind, smart grid and other alternative energy stocks have experienced both strong up and down trends. The forces at...
Rooftop Solar Panels

Hypocrisy? While Buffett Champions Renewables, His Company Fights Rooftop Solar

Mark Chediak, Noah Buhayar and Margaret Newkirk, Bloomberg Warren Buffett highlights how his Berkshire Hathaway Inc. utilities make massive investments in renewable energy. Meanwhile, in Nevada, the company is fighting a plan that would encourage more residents to use green power.


Volume 18, Issue 3


To register for our free
e-Newsletters, subscribe today:


Tweet the Editors! @megcichon @jennrunyon



EU PVSEC 2015 (European PV Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition)

The EU PVSEC is the largest international Conference for Photovoltaic re...

Sponsor/Exhibitor: MIREC Week 2015

Solectria, Pillar, and Variadores together are co-Silver Sponsors! Come ...

More Power, More Profit Tour - San Diego

Register for the SMA More Power, More Profit Tour for free, in-person sa...


EU PVSEC 2014: Call for Papers Receives Great Response

More than 1,500 contributions apply for presentation in AmsterdamScienti...

EU PVSEC 2014 extends its Scope

Added focus on application and policy topicsAbstracts for conference con...

Boulder County Residents Generate Their Own Energy with Community S...

Despite a soggy afternoon, solar energy advocates gathered at ...


Renewable Energy: Subscribe Now

Solar Energy: Subscribe Now

Wind Energy: Subscribe Now

Geothermal Energy: Subscribe Now

Bioenergy: Subscribe Now