A new EU-led initiative is underway to encourage militaries on both sides of the Atlantic to adopt green energy and become more energy efficient.
The "go green" drive was formally launched in Brussels at a meeting of the "consultation forum for sustainable energy in the defense and security sector." The consultation will take place through a series of meetings between experts from national administrations, armed forces, industry and academia. The aim is to explore how EU energy legislation can be better applied to member state defense forces.
The project also seeks to examine how and where to improve energy efficiency in the defense sector and how to better employ renewable energy technology to reduce fuel bills for the defense industry. It will be coordinated by the European Defence Agency (EDA) on behalf of the European Commission.
Defense is one of the largest energy consumers in Europe and the EDA is studying how EU countries can become more efficient. The EDA installed equipment, like solar panels and meters for water and electricity, at a camp in Mali in October to see how best to introduce new technologies into traditional power grids.
Since 2009, the US Department of Defense has spent between $10.2 billion and $16.6 billion per year on energy for military operations alone — about three-quarters of the department's entire energy use. It expects to spend $12.8 billion on this in 2016.
More than 80 experts from national administrations participated in the first plenary session of the new forum, which was opened by EU Commissioner for Energy and Climate Action Miguel Arias Cañete.
The Spaniard said, "Some of the world’s most efficient militaries are progressively replacing expensive fossil fuels with power generated by solar panels, wind turbines and rechargeable batteries. This is not only about more reliable on-site energy generation. It's also about making it safer and cheaper for troops to complete their missions."
Further comment came from EDA Chief Executive Jorge Domecq, who said, "Sustainable energy use starts at home. This is true for individuals as well as for the armed forces. The energy bill for Europe’s armed forces amounts to billions of euros."
"The EU legislation in place for energy efficiency, renewable energy and energy performance in buildings can certainly improve the armed forces’ energy output. Ultimately this will not only benefit their environmental footprint but will also result in considerable savings," Domecq added.
An EDA spokesman said the project brings together experts from the defense and energy sectors to share information and best practice on improving energy management, efficiency and the use of renewable energy in the civil uses of the military.
"The focus will be on facilitating the sharing of good practice and expertise by assessing existing EU energy legislation, in particular the Energy Efficiency Directive, the Energy Performance in Buildings Directive and the Renewable Energy Directive in order to see how different measures could be implemented in the defense sector, thus contributing to ongoing de-carbonization efforts."
The forum will hold five plenary meetings over two years and there will be parallel working groups each with a particular focus on energy management,energy efficiency and renewable energy.