This is the second of a two-part series. Last week: Powering a 21st Century U.S. Navy.
Six years ago, Secretary Ray Mabus challenged the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps to, by 2020, use alternative sources to produce at least half of the energy consumed at our bases.
In 2014, the secretary upped the ante when he said we would have 1 gigawatt of alternative energy – enough to power 250,000 American homes and half of our shore-based consumption – in procurement by the end of 2015. He stood up the Renewable Energy Program Office, or REPO, to bring a laser-focus to our efforts to identify cost-effective renewable energy projects for Navy and Marine Corps installations.
In the past year and half, REPO has deployed three models for alternative energy development. In each model, we partner with the private sector to leverage technology and third-party financing mechanisms to ensure we meet our mission, energy, and economic goals.
Thanks to the secretary’s vision and the REPO team’s efforts, we are on track to have that gigawatt of alternative energy in procurement by the end of this year.
These partnerships and technological breakthroughs are two parts of the equation, but to take full advantage of them we need the third piece – culture. Our Sailors, Marines, and civilians see that we all need to use energy efficiently on our bases. This does not necessarily mean we use less energy. It means we use the right amount for the job, and eliminate waste.
Some of the most effective fighting forces in human history – such as the Spartans, on whom our Marines are modeled – were lean and mean. We need to be the same.
Developing this culture will not happen overnight, but it is in motion. Throughout the year, the Navy uses its Energy Warrior program and the Marine Corp its Energy Ethos to keep energy efficiency top of mind.
During Energy Action Month, we are all reminded to think creatively about ways to get more mission out of every kilowatt hour and gallon of fuel. And in 2016, we will deploy the Great Green Fleet, setting the new standard for energy efficient operations and alternative fuel use.
Our first ships had sails, but this does not mean that today’s platforms also have to rely on them. Neither does it mean that our installations have to generate, distribute, or use energy the same way they did in the 18th century.
The Navy and Marine Corps are proud to continue their role as leaders in energy innovation, afloat and ashore, and in doing so continue to provide an enduring national defense.
Dennis McGinn is assistant secretary of the Navy, Energy, Installations & Environment.