It seems an unlikely partnership, but this week the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) partnered with the Department of Defense (DOD) to develop guidelines for renewable energy deployment. The guidelines address appropriate development of clean energy on and around DOD-controlled lands.
“Renewable energy, especially in the U.S. Southwest, is being sited in the vast open spaces that may be owned, leased or used by the DoD for training and testing operations,” said Kit Kennedy, NRDC clean energy counsel. “In order to produce truly sustainable solutions and to scale up renewable energy quickly, it’s crucial that these projects are developed smart from the start so that we achieve the twin goals of compatibility with the military mission and environmental protections.”
The new guide took almost four years to develop through a collaborative process, which included two day-long stakeholder meetings with renewable energy developers, federal, state and local siting officials and environmental groups, Kennedy said. “The guide provides a robust range of factors, siting considerations and information that renewable energy developers and other stakeholders should keep in mind when working with DOD on siting renewable energy projects,” she said.
The guidelines are designed to help screen solar and wind projects on DOD lands and to develop them in a way that’s appropriate both for the military’s use of the land and the environment. Their development coincided with another important DOD renewable energy tool, the Renewable Energy and Defense (READ) Database. NRDC created created the READ database, which combines geospatial data on DoD installations, military flight training routes, radar and data on environmentally sensitive areas, national monuments and other protected lands, NRDC explained. The READ database will help solar installers and developers figure out where, graphically to make appropriate installations.
The moves are another step forward toward the military’s goal of sourcing 25 percent of its energy from renewables like solar power by 2025. “At the Department of Defense we know how important energy security is to national security, and we know that renewable energy is essential to our energy security,” said Frank DiGiovanni, director, Force Readiness and Training at the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Readiness.
While DiGiovanni said military readiness is the highest priority, the department is trying to avoid environmental impacts. “We’re also committed to reducing uncertainty for the renewable energy industry through early engagement and outreach. This document gives clear direction for the many intersecting interests involved in developing solar, wind and other renewables on and around military ranges, airspace, and installations.”
Development of the guidelines has been underway since August 2009 when the military and NRDC had informal discussions about the siting renewables on bases. The first draft was produced in 2010.