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    December 19, 2011 | 4:01 PM

    4 ways the military is saving energy

    This is the fourth in a series of blog posts to give you the facts about clean energy. Click here to read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

    Source: U.S. Marines

    After nine long years, the war in Iraq is finally drawing to a close. As the last U.S. troops leave Iraq, we've learned a lot of lessons -- and one of them is how important it is to reduce our dependence on oil and other fossil fuels.

    But here's some other important news: The U.S. military is pursuing cutting-edge programs to reduce its own fossil fuel dependence and invest in clean energy. From oil transported across oceans to solar energy that keeps the Marines connected to their families back home, energy use dominates almost everything the military does. But investment in clean energy doesn't just benefit the military -- it moves the conversation forward and encourages innovation in the private sector.

    Check out these four innovative and climate-friendly ways the Pentagon is using clean energy.

    1. On the home front: The Army understands that wasting energy adds to the already huge burden on troops and their families. That's why it's investing billions in energy efficiency and clean energy on its many bases, including a state-of-the-art 500-megawatt solar plant at Fort Irwin, California.
    2. Next-gen energy storage: A typical Army infantry battalion can use up to $150,000 worth of batteries in a year, and one soldier generally carries more than 15 pounds of batteries on patrol. The Pentagon is investing in advanced battery technology and fuel cells that will make troops lighter and more effective, while enhancing the capabilities of the military's clean energy projects.
    3. Solar-powered bases: The Marines, with their long history of being "first in," are spearheading the march toward clean energy. In September 2010, a company of Marines deployed to Afghanistan equipped with solar panels to power their bases and collapsible solar panels to charge their equipment in the field. Over the course of their mission, clean energy powered two entire patrol bases, and solar technology saved Marines from carrying 700 pounds of extra batteries during a three-week patrol.
    4. More efficient vehicles: The USS Makin Island is the Navy's first hybrid ship. On its maiden voyage, the ship saved an estimated 900,000 gallons of fuel and is expected to save $250 million in fuel costs over its lifetime. On the ground, the Army is introducing 4,000 non-tactical electric vehicles. This will give the Army one of the largest EV fleets in the world and reduce carbon pollution by more than 100,000 tons. That's equivalent to taking almost 18,000 cars off the road.

    These efforts undertaken by the men and women of the U.S. military are both admirable and inspiring. The military's efforts alone won't be enough to solve climate change, but their work to innovate, develop and deploy the next generation of clean energy technology should motivate us to do our part.

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