Power Surge: Energy Security and the Department of Defense

Power Surge: Energy Security and the Department of Defense

How the Department of Defense Leverages Private Resources to Enhance Energy Security and Save Money on U.S. Military Bases


The research in this report details how defense leaders have initiated wide-ranging steps to harness advanced technologies to conserve energy, enable on-site production from renewable sources, and save taxpayers millions of dollars at these DOD facilities in the United States.


The U.S. Department of Defense defines installation energy security as the ability to assure access to reliable sources of energy and deliver that power to meet operational needs on its bases in the United States and abroad. The U.S. military needs safe, secure, reliable, and affordable energy to operate facilities on an uninterrupted basis. To meet essential power requirements, defense leaders have initiated far-reaching steps to harness advanced technologies capable of conserving energy, enabling on-site production from renewable sources, and saving taxpayers millions of dollars.

That effort began in earnest in 2008, when the department convened a prestigious task force, formed by the Defense Science Board, to explore the key energy challenges facing the military in the 21st century. The panel's report, More Fight–Less Fuel, called on the U.S. military to address two major challenges: the significant and growing demand for fuel in combat operations, and the vulnerability associated with almost complete reliance by military installations on the nation's aging and vulnerable commercial power grid.1

More Fight–Less Fuel prompted immediate responses by the U.S. armed forces. Across the Department of Defense, or DOD, a wide range of initiatives has been launched to address operational and installation energy challenges. The Pew Charitable Trusts tracks these energy initiatives.*

This latest report examines how the military is leveraging private-sector expertise and resources at home to deploy clean and efficient energy in service of economic, environmental, and national security interests. The report's research is derived from publicly available information, close collaboration with DOD officials and experts, site visits to installations across the United States, and a partnership with Navigant Research, a leading market research firm that analyzes global clean energy technology markets.

The Department of Defense has one of the world's largest inventories of real estate, with 550,000 buildings and structures encompassing an estimated 2.3 billion square feet. These facilities require energy to run the lights; power communications, computers, and other advanced electronics; and provide heating and cooling. To support and advance its missions, the military has prioritized energy security at all installations.


 1 Defense Science Board Task Force on DOD Energy Strategy, More Fight–Less Fuel (February 2008), 3, http://www.acq.osd.mil/dsb/reports/ADA477619.pdf.

* In 2011, The Pew Charitable Trusts examined the extensive range of military clean energy initiatives in From Barracks to the Battlefield: Clean Energy Innovation and America’s Armed Forces, with special focus on the Pentagon’s efforts to address operational energy challenges overseas.

Sharon Burke and John Warner
Sharon Burke and John Warner

Warner and Burke: Advising on Clean Energy and National Security

Quick View

As advisers to the Pew project on national security, energy, and climate, former U.S. Senator John Warner (R-VA) and former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Operational Energy Sharon Burke are working to highlight the inextricable links among energy consumption, climate change, and national security.