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Operational Energy

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Training, moving, and sustaining our forces

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The DoD considers operational energy to be the energy usage on military deployments, direct support for military deployments, and training in support of unit readiness for military deployments. The DoD’s energy use comprises approximately 77% of the entire federal government’s energy consumption, and about 70% of this is operational energy.

Most military operations depend on a single energy source—petroleum—which must be transported, often through and from unstable regions. From 2003 to 2007, more than 3,000 uniformed and contractor casualties were associated with fuel logistics. In Afghanistan and Iraq, fuel convoys are often the target of insurgent attacks.

The reliance on fossil fuels has been a concern for the DoD for many years. As early as 2006, the DoD began exploring ways to reduce dependency on foreign fuels by developing alternative energy sources and increasing energy efficiency. However, more recently, the DoD has been seeking to reduce fossil fuel consumption due to climate change. Diversifying its energy mixture and increasing energy efficiency is vital to improve operational effectiveness and reduce carbon emissions as the world transitions to net-zero.

The DoD’s Energy Management and Resilience Report outlines the DoD’s energy management programs and energy resilience initiatives.

The DoD has already begun taking essential steps to minimize the operational risks associated with fossil fuel reliance, maximize energy security and reduce carbon emissions:

  • Air Force– The Air Force is the largest petroleum user in the DoD. The Air Force has been implementing biofuels and recently launched an initiative to incorporate wind, hydrogen, and nuclear energy into its energy mix.
  • Navy– In 2016, the Navy deployed the Great Green Fleet, which aims to use a hybrid of nuclear energy and alternative fuels to reduce fossil fuel consumption and carbon emissions.
  • Marine Corps– In 2018, the Marines deployed the Ground Renewable Energy Networks (GREENS). This portable system uses solar panels and batteries to provide power and recharge systems without fossil fuels.
  • Army– The Army has been testing portable microgrid systems that operate off solar power and, in 2020, began drafting a comprehensive strategy to equip all Army vehicles with electric power.