The Mesquite Solar 3 project, which will begin construction this month, will provide one third of the power required by 14 US naval facilities in California.

The agreement is said to be the largest purchase of renewable energy ever made by a federal entity.

Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus, said the deal would help improve the efficiency and security of the Navy’s energy supply. “This agreement is also projected to save the Navy at least $90 million over the life of the project,” he said.

The Mesquite Solar 3 power plant, due for completion by the end of 2016, will feature 650,000 solar panels.


In 2009, Congress mandated that the Department of Defense (DoD) produce or procure 25% of total energy from renewable sources by 2025, with each service responsible for generating a portion of that renewable energy.

The Navy has set itself a short-term target to have 1GW of renewable energy in its portfolio by the end of 2015.

The Pentagon, and by extension the US military, is the largest single consumer of energy in the world. In 2012 the Department of Defense emitted more than 70 million tonnes of CO2.

However in recent months, military decision-makers have moved to cut down fossil-fuel consumption following public pressure, stimulated in part by the documentary film ‘The Burden’.

The film points out the environmental benefits of the military improving efficiency, as well as the potential geopolitical advantages of using less oil.

As one Marine in the film put it: “I’m sick of spending $85bn to protect oil choke points around the world.”

High-ranking US officers also admitted that increasing efficiency could help protect soldiers by reducing the need for slow-moving fuel convoys.

Back in November, a British admiral also warned that climate change would make it increasingly likley that British troops would have to be deployed round the world on peace-keeping missions.

Brad Allen

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie