The US Department of Defense is to use 16m acres of its land for renewable energy generation to power military installations.

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to encourage the development of renewable projects on public land previously set aside for defense-related purposes.

“We are making millions of acres of public lands and offshore areas available that have the greatest potential for utility-scale solar and wind projects,” said Salazar.

Department of Defense installations encompass roughly 28m acres in the US. Of the 16m acres now targeted for renewable projects, about 13m acres are in the west of the US and are high in wind, solar and geothermal resources.  Meanwhile offshore wind also is abundant around installations on Atlantic, Pacific, Gulf of Mexico and Hawaii coasts.

Panetta said: “Developing renewable energy is the right thing to do for national security as well as for the environment and our economy.  Renewable energy projects built on these lands will provide reliable, local sources of power for military installations, allow for a continued energy supply if the commercial power grid gets disrupted and will help lower utility costs.”

The US Army, Navy and Air Force have each committed to deploy 1 GW of renewable energy on or near its installations by 2025.