United States

United States

Army looks for private sector cash

UNITED STATES: The US Army has set up a task force to attract $7.1 billion in private-sector renewable-energy investment on army land over ten years. This is enough to generate 2.1 million megawatt hours annually. The Energy Initiatives Office (EIO) was established at the Pentagon in September.

The US Army so far only has two turbines including this 1.5MW machine in Utah
The US Army so far only has two turbines including this 1.5MW machine in Utah

The army is targeting wind power and other renewables for domestic projects of 10MW and larger. The initiative is part of the army's larger goal of sourcing 25% of its global energy needs from renewables by 2025.

"We're looking to collaborate with private industry and use private investment on our bases to build these projects," said Jonathan Powers, special adviser on energy to the assistant secretary of the army. "We're going to be very transparent in the process so that the private investors understand how we're coming to the table."

The army owns more than six million hectares of land across the US but operates only two utility-scale wind turbines - a 1.5MW machine at its depot in Tooele, Utah, and an 850kW machine at Fort Huachuca in Arizona - along with a handful of small-scale turbines at various locations.

"The army's been doing renewable energy for a long time, but we've been doing it with a very decentralised approach," said Powers. "Now we've got about 20 projects in the pipeline, but we can't legally talk about specifics yet."

The army has formed a task force to guide the initiative, which is also expected to include solar, geothermal and biomass power plants - depending on regional attributes. While bases in the Southwest will probably see solar installations, windy Texas outposts are likely to host wind farms. The EIO is working through details regarding power purchase agreements and the potential for streamlined permitting.

"The Department of Defense is a very reliable long-term partner," said Phyllis Cuttino, director of the clean energy programme for the Pew Charitable Trusts, which recently released a study on renewables in the military. "So when you're a wind or solar power company, it's to your benefit to sign a long-term agreement."

Working with private companies will also bring the army significant advantages, including access to subsidies such as the federal production tax credit, which is only available to tax-paying entities.

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