Throughout history, new technology has often been developed and used for military purposes before it goes mainstream. In the case of solar, the military may not have pioneered the concept, but it can still play a leading role.
On Jan. 22, 2024, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) announced that it will make a huge solar commitment by installing solar roof panels at the Pentagon. The panels are part of a $10 million investment to improve the iconic building’s “energy footprint.” Other projects include HVAC recommissioning, solar thermal panels and heat pump installations.
The Pentagon projects are part of a larger $55 million investment the DOD is making in energy-efficiency improvements at facilities around the country and overseas. Overall, the DOD will fund eight projects at Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps bases throughout the United States and at the U.S. Army Garrison in Wiesbaden, Germany.
Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks put the investment into perspective. She noted that the DOD manages “one of the nation’s largest real property portfolios.”
The Pentagon is a major asset in that portfolio. For many years, it held the title of the largest office building in the world, spanning over 28 acres. It is now considered the second largest.
The DOD projects are part of the Biden administration’s plan to promote clean energy by having the federal government set an example for sustainability. In total, 31 government sites are receiving $104 million in Department of Energy grants that are expected to double the amount of carbon-free electricity at federal facilities and create 27 megawatts of clean energy capacity.
Other agencies with projects that will receive funding include the Departments of Energy, Commerce, Interior, Veterans Affairs and Transportation, as well as the General Services Administration, the Office of Personnel Management and the Social Security Administration.
The large award is the first of three tranches from the $250 million authorized under the 2021 bipartisan infrastructure law. The funding supports Biden’s 2021 executive order that called for a 65% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from federal operations by 2030 and a net-zero building portfolio by 2045.