This week, the U.S. Army released its plan required by President Joe Biden’s executive orders for government-wide efforts to reduce greenhouse emissions and combat what the administration says are increasingly extreme temperature conditions.
In a press call on Wednesday, a U.S. Army official told American Military News that with the new Climate Strategy “we’re recognizing that climate change is a threat to U.S. national security” and “the Army’s going to have to operate regularly in extreme environments like the arctic.”
The Army’s new Climate Strategy calls for increased training to “operate in a climate altered world” and reduce greenhouse emissions where possible, such as through electrifying its entire fleet of tactical vehicles by 2050 and installing renewable energy microgrids at all Army installations.
The Army strategy aims to install renewable microgrids on all its installations by 2035. These grids would potentially be able to separate entirely from the power grids of the local area and operate independently if the need arises, such as during outages of the regular grid.
The Army official said efforts to introduce renewable energy grids on Army installations could see the service lease some installation land to local utility companies to operate the grids and use surplus energy “to power the local communities” while allowing the Army to take full control of those microgrids in an emergency situation. The official said leasing land and giving surplus back to the local communities could be one way to reduce costs for the Army.
The official said it will be easier to implement renewable energy microgrids on some Army installations compared to others and local Army leaders will have to implement microgrids in an “installation by installation approach.”
The Army also aims to have its entire fleet of tactical vehicles be fully electric by 2050. The Army official said electrifying the Army’s vehicle fleet will take longer, but as an intermediate strategy, the Army is exploring the use of hybridization kits known as “Tactical Vehicle Electrification Kits” (TVEK), for its existing vehicle fleets, allowing them to run on gas power when needed but use electric batteries during idling periods.
The Army estimates TVEK’s can reduce fuel consumption by about 20 to 25 percent.
“Contemporary Army ground vehicles must continuously run their engines non-stop to power vital auxiliary systems like communications equipment
even when the vehicle is not moving. Introducing anti-idle enables these systems to be powered even with the engine off, allowing the vehicle to serve its critical battlefield functions on ‘silent watch,’” the Army Climate Strategy document states. “This improved capability not only makes Army units harder for adversaries to find by lowering their thermal and acoustic signatures, these technologies also reduce fuel consumption and lower Army GHG emissions.”
When asked what funding the Army has for electrifying its vehicle fleet, the Army official said the service is still figuring out its funding needs.
The Army official said many of the service’s non-tactical vehicles are leased through the General Services Administration (GSA), and so as those leases end, the service will seek to phase out gas-powered vehicles and lease new electric vehicles.
As for tactical vehicles, the official said the service is expecting a longer timeframe for moving its tactical vehicle fleet to all-electric vehicles.
The Army strategy contains 29 different intermediate goals, covering changes to installations, vehicle fleets and training, but does not specify costs for attaining these goals
The Army official said the funding is “going to be a moving target.” The official noted timeframes are set in decades.
“A lot of the things we’re looking for, the technology is still maturing and developing,” the official said. “We’ve seen over the last decade, we’ve seen how renewable energy sources, how the technology, how that curve has gone up while the cost curve has gone down. So it’s kind of hard to say exactly what the exact costs will be.”