Status Report on DOD Renewables Assessment

July 28, 2004

In FY 2002, Congress appropriated funds to assess wind, solar and geothermal energy resources at domestic military installations and to formulate a strategic renewable energy plan. Under the leadership of the Air Force, the Department of Defense (DOD) Renewables Assessment project is being conducted by the Renewable Energy Working Group (RWG), with representatives from each of the Military Services and the participation of four U.S. Department of Energy national laboratories.

The assessment is divided into four phases, with the phase 2 assessment report becoming available shortly. The phase 2 report investigates the potential for developing renewable power generation on installations, and the potential for solar thermal projects. The assessment examined 900 domestic DOD sites with sufficient land area to support a commercial-scale renewable power project. Additionally, renewable energy's role in increasing energy security and reliability is evaluated. This information provides a foundation for DOD to develop a renewables strategy and develop specific projects.

Wind Assessment Results

Twenty-one installations with strong wind resources were selected for in-depth financial analyses. Nineteen meteorological towers were erected on 17 installations to collect detailed wind data, with one more awaiting base approval. Three additional installations have previous wind data available. Based on the results of these analyses, in November 2004 the RWG will recommend to the Services whether procurements should be pursued for up to 14 commercial-scale wind facilities and 7 military-use projects.

Solar Assessment Results

Considering the large number of installations with solar potential, the complexity of site-specific evaluations, and the time available for the assessment, an estimate of full solar project potential for DOD program planning purposes could not be completed. However, the RWG developed software for Service planning offices and installation personnel to use in estimating the longrange potential for projects and to identify and propose individual projects. The solar software is designed for use on almost any domestic federal facility but requires site specific energy cost data. Existing energy cost data for some military installations was provided to the assessment team. From this data, 351 sites were identified where potentially cost-effective solar applications could be considered. As more installations provide their energy cost data more solar project evaluations can be made, and more projects proposed.

Geothermal Assessment Results

Two types of geothermal evaluations were conducted: 1) the potential for utility-scale electric power production and 2) direct use of geothermal resources, which augment building heating and cooling systems. Four installations with high potential for utility-scale power production and 6 installations with possible potential were identified for further evaluation. Evaluations of direct-use geothermal potential resulted in 21 installations with strong indications, of which 4 are most promising. Installations can request funding for direct use geothermal projects through the Energy Conservation Investment Program process.


The on-installation assessments to date indicate that some U.S. installations have development potential in some locations. However, developing this potential faces numerous mission, financing and environmental challenges. DOD will need to rely on purchasing renewables from the electric grid to significantly increase use of renewable energy across a wide geographic range of installations in the nearer term. Developing an approach to purchasing renewable power will be the focus of the DOD renewables assessment over the coming months.

For more information, please contact Gueta Mezzetti of DOD at 703-604-4306 or Mike Warwick of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory at 503-417-7555.