Defense Act Encourages Military Fuel Economy, Renewable Energy Use

October 22, 2008


Photo of a fighter jet flying below a jumbo jet refueling vehicle, with a fuel line running between them.

A 2001 report found that delivering jet fuel by air tanker boosts its cost by a factor of 17.
Credit: Darin Russell, U.S. Air Force

A bill to authorize defense spending for fiscal year 2009 includes two provisions that will help create a more fuel-efficient military while encouraging the use of wind and solar energy. President Bush signed S. 3001, the "Duncan Hunter National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2009," on October 15. Section 332 of the bill requires the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) to include fuel efficiency as a key performance parameter when modifying or developing new machinery that consumes fuel, such as tanks or jets. It also requires that the life-cycle cost analyses for new military capabilities include the fully burdened cost of fuel, which includes the total cost of all personnel and assets required to deliver and protect the fuel. Section 333 of the bill also requires the DOD to consider the use of wind and solar energy for expeditionary forces to reduce the need to deliver fuel to battle areas, where electricity is typically produced by engine-driven generators. In addition, Section 2402 of the bill authorizes $90 million for energy efficiency projects. See the White House press release and the full text of S. 3001 (PDF 928 KB). Download Adobe Reader.

As an example of the fully burdened cost of fuel, a study of military fuel efficiency back in 2001 revealed that delivering jet fuel by air tanker increased its cost by a factor of 17, while the total cost of delivering fuel to Army forces in war zones was estimated at hundreds of dollars per gallon (even though fuel was much cheaper then). A follow-up report in 2007 found that energy needs were hampering DOD operations with regard to aviation forces, individual soldiers, forward land forces, and mobile electric power sources. See the story on the two reports from the May 9, 2007, edition of this newsletter.