Energy Resilience: Sustain the Mission – Secure the Future

By HQDA G-4October 24, 2022

Each year, the Army recognizes Energy Action Month in October to highlight the importance of energy resources for maintaining mission readiness and powering our Armed Forces. The importance of energy resilience, efficiency, and conservation cannot be understated. The Army is the largest consumer of energy in the Department of Defense with total spending amounting to over four billion dollars a year. As we continue to witness the impacts of climate change, it is incumbent on the Army to adapt to our changing environment and focus on obtaining more energy from non-carbon sources while mitigating effects in the near-term to ensure we stay ready for our next mission.

To better position ourselves for the future, implementation of the Army Climate Strategy will help the Army take steps to effectively operate in a changing environment and strengthen our operational and installation energy resilience. To this end, the Army is pursuing partnerships to obtain third party financing for onsite backup renewable generation, large-scale battery storage, microgrids, and modernized utility systems. The Army is working towards installing microgrids across all installations by 2035, providing large reductions in emissions while increasing grid resilience. Moreover, the Army is also pursuing renewable energy generation and battery storage capacity to self-sustain its critical missions on all installations by 2040.

The U.S. Army's Climate Strategy - Key Goals for 2040/50
The U.S. Army's Climate Strategy - Key Goals for 2040/50 (Photo Credit: The Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment) VIEW ORIGINAL

In order to drive down the Army’s carbon footprint and combat the effects of climate change, efforts are underway to electrify portions of our tactical fleets with intelligent anti-idle systems while also transitioning to hybrid electric drive technologies. For example, the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle and Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles are being integrated with anti-idle technology to reduce fuel consumption and provide enhanced operational capabilities through noise reduction. Advanced hybrid propulsion technologies are also being adapted into the Transmission Integral Generator (TIG) used in platforms as an onboard vehicle power source. Through the addition of a specialized clutch, 200kW Inverter, and Li-ion battery pack, the TIG will become an electric motor with improved fuel economy, acceleration, silent mobility, and power generation.

As the energy requirement for Soldiers in the field continues to grow, the Army is also taking steps to ensure Soldiers have adequate and reliable sources of energy where and when they need it. Alternative energy sources that are smaller, lighter, and provide more energy are being developed, which will eventually allow Soldiers to increase their mission durations while reducing their need to resupply. One effort underway is the Small Tactical Electric Power (STEP) system, a modernization program that will replace existing legacy systems and provide improved tactical electric power capabilities for power generation requirements under 5kW. STEP will power a variety of mission equipment for expeditionary operations in remote and urban sites as well as in support of reconstruction and relief efforts. Three different models are currently in development: a STEP Lightweight, a STEP 3kW, and a STEP Hybrid Augmentation system, that will each meet the energy requirements of Soldiers depending on the varying mission needs.

These are just a few examples of efforts underway to create a more efficient Army that can operate in any environment while mitigating impacts that come from our energy use. However, it is just as important that we are all aware of our personal energy consumption and consider what we can do from an individual level to control how much energy we are using. All Soldiers and citizens need to play their part and promote energy awareness while helping reduce energy consumption. Our continued focus on energy will not only provide our Armed Forces with the advantage needed to execute the mission but will also leave our planet better off for future generations.