Energy Management in DOD Facilities
The Department of Defense (DOD) is the largest consumer of energy in the federal government, spending billions of dollars each year to power its permanent military installations around the world. As threats to energy resources increase, DOD’s energy planning is key to ensuring successful missions in the future.
To successfully execute its missions, DOD’s facilities must have the energy resources necessary to operate. This is important today, but also in a future world where there is increasing competition for resources. DOD’s planning is focused on these three major areas:
Energy sustainability: It is a DOD strategic goal to consider sustainability, including climate change adaptation, in its facility investment decisions. The department was on track to meet its fiscal year 2013 sustainability goals concerning biogas recovery, facility water intensity, and other categories. However, DOD was not on track to meet its goals related to renewable energy, facility energy intensity, and environmental management systems, among others. Incorporating sustainability into DOD planning and decision-making will enable the department to address current and emerging mission needs and consider future challenges
Energy security: DOD reported in 2011 that its dependence on the commercial electricity grid for facilities’ energy leaves the department vulnerable to service disruptions and places the continuity of critical missions at risk. As such, DOD’s energy management strategy seeks to, among other actions, increase the supply of renewable and alternative energy sources and improve energy security by addressing the threat of commercial grid disruption with on-site generation capacity. However, DOD’s collection and reporting of utility disruption data is not comprehensive and contains inaccuracies.
Renewable energy: To encourage an increased use of energy from renewable sources, such as solar and wind power, DOD adheres to several federal renewable energy consumption and generation goals. DOD faces three key challenges in meeting the renewable energy goals.
- 1. Renewable energy projects may sometimes be incompatible with installations’ needs to use land for primary mission objectives. For example, wind turbines may conflict with aircraft operations during training.
- 2. Renewable energy is often more expensive than nonrenewable energy. Therefore, using renewable energy can be at odds with DOD guidance that calls for DOD to invest in energy projects when they are cost effective. In response, DOD plans to obtain additional funds by joining with private industry, such as local electric utilities, to develop renewable energy projects.
- 3. The use of those private sector approaches can, however, be constrained by several factors. For example, energy produced by the projects may not count toward the renewable energy goals.
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GAO-15-749: Published: Jul 23, 2015. Publicly Released: Jul 23, 2015.
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