U.S. Navy Wants 100% Green Electricity, 100% Electric Ground Vehicles

marine corps
A servicemember checks out an electric truck at a charging station at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, 2021 (USN / USMC)

Published May 31, 2022 6:34 PM by The Maritime Executive

The U.S. Navy plans to source 100 percent of its electrical power needs from carbon-free sources by 2030, including at least 50 percent from local power generation - some of which it will produce itself. 

The Navy's updated climate strategy calls for more investment in distributed generation and cybersecure microgrids, as well as green power purchases from utility-scale providers. Microgrid technology can isolate the service's critical shoreside power needs from grid instability or  outage. The objective is to take control and "enable mission accomplishment during periods of grid instability, including generation to support tactical systems and requirements."

The plan is part of the service's efforts to wean itself off of fossil fuels, but it presents a national-security case for the transition. When combined with a plan to run 100 percent of the Navy's light vehicles on electricity by 2027 - and all vehicles by 2035 - green power will make the service independent of disruption in petroleum fuel price and availability for ground operations. 

Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, Georgia is an early adopter of on-base power, and is the first in the service to generate more energy than it consumes. It runs on landfill gas, excess steam from a nearby industrial facility, solar power and geothermal, with mobile solar-powered charging stations for backup. 

The Navy is even planning to shift to hybrid and/or electric powertrains for tactical vehicles, reducing the logistics requirements for moving fuel to combat forces. "The focus will remain on warfighting efficacy, including fuel demand reduction, extending platform range, and improving resilience and survivability," the service said. 

The Navy's surface combatants, auxiliaries and aircraft (excluding submarine and carrier propulsion) will remain dependent on petroleum for the forseeable future. Instead of switching the energy source for its fleet, the Navy will pursue incremental strategies to reduce energy demand and improve efficiency. "These platforms are . . . widely recognized as being the hardest to decarbonize based on the missions they must perform, the amount of energy they require, and the long service life of these capital assets.