The Defense Department is turning to industry in hopes of finding ways to serve significant power needs with carbon-free electricity.
The Pentagon wants to find ways to cut its carbon footprint while still deliver on its mission, Chief Sustainability Officer Joe Bryan said. The potential contract is a dual request for information with the Defense Logistics Agency Energy and the General Services Administration.
“As one of the largest electricity users in the country, the Department of Defense has an opportunity to lead the way in transitioning to carbon pollution-free electricity,” Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks said. “It’s not just critical to addressing the threat of climate change but also to our national security as we work to secure U.S. competitiveness in rapidly shifting global energy markets.”
The RFI responses will help the military achieve compliance with the Biden Administration’s executive order to have the government use 100% carbon pollution-free electricity by 2030 and achieve net-zero emissions procurement by 2050, Bryan said.
DoD willing to consider multiple sustainable energy sources
The ultimate DoD plan could involve using energy sources like solar, hydropower and nuclear energy.
“We’ll have a strategy for meeting the president’s objectives to get us to a better place over the next several years,” Bryan said. “Outside the Postal Service, the Department of Defense has the largest fleet of vehicles in the government. We’re thinking a lot about how we transition that fleet to electric. That’s going to have benefits for the United States as electric vehicles increasingly become the dominant technology.”
In the past year, DoD and the military services have released multiple strategies to address sustainability and climate change.
The department’s leaders say that sustainability is a must as the demand for weapons resilient to extreme weather rises, the need for energy saving systems that last increase and the U.S. tries to move away from its dependence on other countries for energy resources.
“Our climate adaptation plan speaks to a wholesale integration of these considerations into our acquisition and raw requirements process, to make sure that what we buy can continue to operate under increasingly challenging conditions,” Bryan said. “We are asking, what is the impact of climate like hotter weather and more extreme events on our existing equipment? Also, what should we buy differently that’s going to be good for the mission and provide additional capability?”
Addressing the effects of extreme weather across Defense installations
The Pentagon is also bolstering its military installations as they are showing more vulnerability in the face of extreme weather. For instance, a hurricane completely destroyed Air Force Base Tyndall in Florida a few years ago.
DoD is also seeing the threat landscape change as different areas of the world experience extreme weather and new areas open up for human habitation.
“If we look around the world, we see climate related challenges in every area of responsibility that we operate in,” Bryan said. “The Arctic, we know, is warming at a rate twice as fast as the rest of the planet, accelerating ice melt and driving competition with China over sea routes and mineral wealth. In the Middle East, hotter temperatures and drought induced migration are contributing to instability there.”