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Joining Forces on Renewable Energy Development

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A partnership between the Interior and Defense departments will reopen 16 million acres of land to renewable energy development. The goal? To help ensure reliable energy supplies for the nation’s military bases, while protecting the environment and saving taxpayer money.

In a conference call earlier today, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding establishing a partnership between the two government agencies. This partnership will open up land previously managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and subsequently reassigned for military use. The vast majority of this land is located in the west, including large swaths in Nevada. According to Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid (a Democrat from Nevada):

“This agreement is going to help save taxpayers billions of dollars in fuel costs, increase national security, and help protect the environment.”

This is the latest step in the push to more self-reliant military bases. Each branch of the U.S. military is currently working to install 1 GW of renewable power generation on or near military installations. And, due to security concerns, bases are also being equipped with technology to create their own microgrids that will allow them to keep the lights on in absence of the commercial electric grid.

These projects will help to ensure reliable energy supplies in the case of failures in the electric grid. According to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta:

“Developing renewable energy is the right thing to do for national security as well as for the environment and our economy.”

Highlighted in the memorandum were offshore wind generation opportunities for coastal bases. Solar, biomass, and geothermal were also discussed.

By developing renewable energy technologies along with microgrid technologies, the Adminstration believes that they can make a big impact on the military’s $4 billion annual utility bill. And, simultaneously, eliminate the need for the countless diesel back-up generators that are currently used when the power goes out.

Photo Credit:

1. Photo of American flag and dollar bills © Copyright MinimalistPhotography101.comand licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Melissa C. Lott About the Author: An engineer and researcher who works at the intersection of energy, environment, technology, and policy. Follow on Twitter @mclott.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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  1. 1. sethdiyal 2:13 am 08/7/2012

    Obviously hot tub sized nukes like the Hyperion are the ticket for military bases. Could be carried around on a truck yet produce all the electricity and fuel the base needs at a tiny fraction of the cost of the wind/solar scam.

    Salazar is a wacky not so renewable zealot that does everything in his power to block nukes.

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  2. 2. kphuser1 6:11 am 08/7/2012

    Perhaps the radioactive material might be too heavy for trucks/asphalt? What if a wreck occurred: a super-fund site? Where to dispose of the reactor’s waste for thousands of years? One small U.S. satellite which crashed powered by a passive reactor caused global plutonium contamination to rise several percent. Resulting cancers, lymphoma are a legacy we cannot escape. Less nukes, please.

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  3. 3. sethdiyal 1:17 pm 08/7/2012

    These reactors have a softball of nuke material encased in molten lead which would solidify in an accident, all encased in thick steel. The US military has been riding around in far less safe than these safe/secure nuke powered vessels for 60 years now.

    Anybody died from a radiation leak so far? Not!!!

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  4. 4. jerryd 8:01 am 08/8/2012

    So your truck sethdiyal is going to get rid of 100MW, 150,000HP of heat how?

    How would a heat seeking missle work on it?

    So just plug into the truck?

    Link to this
  5. 5. MutantBuzzard 10:11 am 08/9/2012

    Hyperion, as in the company mining Pandora? Borderlands rocked can’t hardly wait till Sept 16 and BL2

    Link to this

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