Defense

Army plans microgrids, electric vehicle fleet in first climate strategy

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The Army plans to install a microgrid on all of its installations by 2035 and have a fleet of all-electric vehicles by 2050, among other efforts outlined in a climate strategy released Tuesday.

The strategy, the first such plan for the service, is meant to guide the Army in how it responds to climate threats that affect soldier readiness, warfighting and installations. It also directs how the U.S. military’s largest branch can reduce its own climate impacts through less fossil fuel use, among other efforts.

“The time to address climate change is now. The effects of climate change have taken a toll on supply chains, damaged our infrastructure, and increased risks to Army Soldiers and families due to natural disasters and extreme weather,” Army Secretary Christine Wormuth said in a statement released alongside the report.

“The Army must adapt across our entire enterprise and purposefully pursue greenhouse gas mitigation strategies to reduce climate risks. If we do not take action now, across our installations, acquisition and logistics, and training, our options to mitigate these risks will become more constrained with each passing year.”

The Pentagon in October released a 32-page climate strategy, part of its biggest effort ever to prepare the military to handle and operate within ever-increasing hurricanes, wildfires, heat, drought and floods “that can trigger crises and instability around the world.”

The Army’s strategy expands on that, laying out specific efforts in operations, training, installations, planning and procurement to increase warfighter resilience in harsher environments while saving dollars and reducing its impact on the planet.

“For the foreseeable future, climate impacts will disrupt Army activities, displace individuals and communities, and increase the frequency of crisis deployments,” the strategy document states. “The Army must prepare for potential consequences including energy and water scarcity; damage to installations and infrastructure; displacement of and disruptions to operations, supply chains, and logistics; and imperiled Soldier health through exposure to airborne irritants like smoke and dust, disease vectors, and temperature extremes.”

The strategy notes several goals, including the reduction of the Army’s net greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent by 2032, compared to 2005 levels, with net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045.

The largest undertaking will likely be updating the energy infrastructure at the more than 130 Army installations around the world.

“Because of the systems and people they host, the communities they connect with, and the spaces they safeguard, installations anchor and guide some of the Army’s most consequential efforts to improve itself while responding to climate change,” the report states.

To help along that effort, the Army plans to install a microgrid on every installation by 2035, with 25 such projects planned in the next three years.

The service has already started or finished 950 renewable energy projects supplying 480 megawatts of power, according to the strategy.

In an effort to reduce fossil fuel use by its vehicles, the Army plans to field hybrid tactical vehicles by 2035 before moving to fully electric by 2050.

For its non-tactical vehicle fleet, the service plans to get to all-electric by 2035.

Aiding that move, the service will invest in over 470 charging stations this year alone, according to the strategy.

The Army has already grown its hybrid vehicles inventory by nearly 3,000 in the past three years, saving an estimated $50 million in fleet costs and cutting more than 13 million gallons of fossil fuel consumption per year, according to the military.

The strategy also touches on how the Army can incorporate climate change lessons and best practices into its training, including publishing such information every two years beginning in 2024 and ensuring that “all Army war drills and simulations consider climate change risks and threats by 2028.”

“Climate change poses unique challenges to the Army at all levels,” the strategy states. “Bold actions now will ensure the Army is ready to support our nation in competition, crisis, and conflict far into the future.” 

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