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DOD Turns to Industry to Meet Carbon Pollution-Free Energy Targets

Feb. 3, 2022 | BY David Vergun , DOD News

Today, the Defense Department issued a Request for Information on costs and technologies to support the department's shift to purchasing a 100% carbon pollution-free electricity.  

Men handle solar panel
Solar Panels
Wyatt Whelan, left, and Eric Roberts, both PosiGen install supervisors, move a photovoltaic panel to a roof May 11, 2018, in the Dover Family Housing community at Dover Air Force Base, Del.
Photo By: Air Force photo by Roland Balik
VIRIN: 180511-F-BO262-1009M

The RFI, issued in conjunction with the General Services Administration, comes on the heels of Executive Order 14057, "Catalyzing Clean Energy Industries and Jobs Through Federal Sustainability," signed by President Joe Biden on December 8, 2021. The EO directs the federal government to shift electricity purchases to carbon pollution-free electricity to reduce its contribution to climate change inducing greenhouse gas emissions. CFE includes a range of power sources, including renewable energy like solar, wind and hydropower as well as nuclear energy and fossil fuel power plants that capture and store carbon dioxide emissions.  

"As one of the largest electricity users in the country, the Department of Defense has an opportunity to lead the way in transitioning to carbon pollution-free electricity," Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks said. "It's not just critical to addressing the threat of climate change, but also to our national security as we work to secure US competitiveness in rapidly shifting global energy markets. The RFI we released today sends a clear signal to the market that the Department of Defense is well underway in our efforts to support President Biden’s Executive Order to achieve a carbon pollution-free electricity sector by 2035."

Wind turbine shown
Wind Turbine
A wind turbine is shown on Ford Island, Oahu, Hawaii, July 7, 2014.
Photo By: Army Staff Sgt. Kyle Richardson
VIRIN: 140707-A-RV513-048


The EO calls for a "coordinated whole of government approach" to achieve 100% CFE by 2030, including a requirement to match clean electricity supply with federal agency electricity use on an hourly basis 50% of the time. Both the high utilization of CFE and the hourly matching approach represent a new approach for DoD and the federal government. 

According to Joe Bryan, DOD's chief sustainability officer and senior adviser for climate to Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III, leveraging the scale of DoD and federal partners like GSA should attract industry interest and help drive competitive pricing.  "Clean energy markets are transforming quickly and prices are increasingly competitive," he said.

Mike McGhee, executive director for climate resilience in DOD's acquisition and sustainment office, said renewable power is opening new market structures along with new opportunities. 

Solar panels shown
Solar Panels
Nearly completed solar panel array at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, is shown Nov. 21, 2014.
Photo By: Army photo by Sgt. Adrian Borunda
VIRIN: 141121-Z-CZ735-013
Wind turbines shown
Wind Turbines
Wind turbines are shown at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wy., Nov. 9, 2021.
Photo By: Air Force Airman Sarah Post
VIRIN: 211109-F-SE585-2258

"Utility companies, state regulatory commissions, private energy developers and larger consumers have been creating innovative, market-based approaches for increasing clean power options, and we hope to tap into that creative thinking with this RFI," he said.

Responses to the RFI will inform the department of expected pricing and industry insights on approaches to the transition to CFE. The CFE RFI SP0604-22-0411 is posted on SAM.gov and is open until March 7, 2022.