The Defense Department is the largest single user of energy in the United States, if not the entire world. That dependence costs the military billions of dollars in fuel a year and requires troops to undergo dangerous delivery missions.
In a future war, the Defense Department will need renewable energy sources that can juice up soldier equipment, sustain weapon systems and power bases, all while reducing the department’s logistical tail and reliance on fossil fuels, experts said.
“Napoleon said that an army runs on its stomach. Well, the truth is the army of today runs on oil,” said Andrew Holland, senior fellow for energy and climate at the American Security Project, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank.
During fiscal year 2012 — the most recent data available — the Defense Department spent $16.4 billion on 104 million barrels of liquid fuels for various operational energy uses, according to the office of the assistant secretary of defense for operational energy plans and programs.
The military derives its power almost exclusively from petroleum, Holland said. That dependence tethers the armed services to expensive oil and forces them to transport large quantities of fuel in dangerous and sometimes contested areas, he said.