As the world’s single largest consumer of petroleum the US Department of Defense is expected to double-down on deploying military microgrids to sustain its operations, with annual microgrid implementation spending expected to reach $1.4 billion in 2026, according to a new deep-dive by Navigant Research.
The last time Navigant Research dug into the potential viability of microgrids for the US Department of Defense (DOD) and its military operations — which represent the largest consumer of all forms of energy globally — back in 2012, it found that efforts being made by the DOD were being highlighted as a significant driver of microgrid deployment in the United States. However, since then, deployments slowed for a number of reasons.
The new US Secretary of Defense, James Matthis, has nevertheless revitalized interest in microgrids given his own support of the technology — particularly microgrids combined with solar PV. For Secretary Matthis, high mortality rates from transporting fossil fuels to combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan are one of the reasons he wants to double-down on microgrid deployment.
Additionally, the Department of Defense is looking to microgrids as a means to increase its physical security and cybersecurity — not the only military in the world to be making the connections between microgrids and increase security, but definitely the country with the most advanced efforts.
Navigant Research has thus concluded that by using microgrids the Department of Defense would be able to reduce the $4 billion it currently spends on energy across its 523 installations and 280,000 buildings. Further, Navigant predicts that spending on annual microgrid implementation will increase from $453.4 million in 2017 to an impressive $1.4 billion in 2026.
In terms of projects, Navigant Research’s base scenario envisions 104 MW (megawatts) worth of military microgrids coming online in 2017, increasing to 441 MW annually by 2026. This would be led by the United States Army with 29.5 MW in 2017, followed by the Marines with 27.6 MW and the Navy with 26.5 MW. By 2026, the Army would install 126.8 MW.
Annual Stationary Base Military Microgrids Capacity and Implementation Spending by Military Branch, Base Scenario, US DOD: 2017-2026
“The DOD has played a remarkably consistent role in commercializing new technologies that provide tremendous social benefits within the larger civilian realm of society, including microgrids,” explained Peter Asmus, principal research analyst at Navigant Research. “Perhaps the biggest impact the DOD could have on future microgrid growth globally is in the developing world.”