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US Army on renewables spree

The US military is becoming a major player in the biofuel and renewable energy markets.

The US Army spends more than $1 billion a year power its facilities and already utilises solar power. However it is planning a rollout of initiatives that cover all forms of renewable energy.

Richard Kidd, the US Army’s deputy assistant secretary for energy, said: “We are specifically looking at wind, solar, geothermal for electric power and biomass.”

He explained the army currently has 165 operational renewable energy projects, which are almost all under 1 MW. However its ambitions are on a much bigger scale, including a 500 MW, $2bn solar farmà‚  in the Mojave Desert.

He said the army was attractive to investors because it “can offer a very long term power purchase agreement, up to 30 years, so we can provide a reliable and secure income stream, so we get the lifecycle cost and advantages of renewable energy.”

He added that “we have a number of sites that we have identified which could generate hundreds of megawatts of power”.

Kidd also told Platts Energy week that in Afghanistan the army was removing generators and bringing in solar panels and batteries. “We run the load off the battery pack and use the solar panels to charge the batteries.” He said this was resulting in fuel reduction of up to 70 per cent.

In 2011 the Department of Defense bought 450 000 gallons of biofuels for fighter jets and other aircraft and it plans to become an even bigger buyer in the years to come.