Army bases' land is resource for generating energy

Apr 24, 2013

The U.S. military is the largest consumer of energy in the federal government. But it also has a tremendous resource for generating its own energy: all the land bases sit on.

Fort Drum, for example, takes up more than 107,000 acres in the North Country. That's ample space to harvest biofuel or plant a solar panel field, says Jerry Davis, an engineer at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado, which is working with the Defense Department on net zero energy projects.

"Net zero" means generating as much energy as is consumed.

"Tens-of-thousands of acres, potentially, to develop. So they’re leveraging, in a sense, their purchasing power and the fact that they have fantastic resources," he says of the military.

Biofuel-powered tanks may be a few decades off, but Davis says the military branches are making progress. He points at educational programs in renewable energy for cadets taking place at the military academies, like West Point in the Hudson Valley.

"It takes some years to see the benefits of it, but that’s one of the areas where they’re promoting awareness among the early ranks that will rise to be future leaders."

Davis recently spoke at the Energy in the 21st Century Symposium in Syracuse.