Military Studies Alternative Energy

Funds being targeted to get most bang for the buck.

The Defense Department is the largest consumer of energy in the United States, spending roughly $18 billion on energy resources last year. But, that may be about to change. The Pentagon has launched initiatives to find alternative fuel sources. The Pentagon will use $300 million of the $7.4 billion it received from the economic stimulus package to accelerate existing programs for developing alternative fuels and saving energy.

The director of defense research and engineering at the Pentagon, Alan Shaffer, says that in the overall scheme of the stimulus, $300 million sounds small, but that the relatively modest sum is being strategically targeted to make the most of it. For instance, one project looks at converting algae into jet propulsion fuel 8, or JP-8, that could power Navy and Air Force aircraft.

And the Army is looking at developing solar and wind farms on buffer land. Keith Eastin, assistant secretary of the Army for installations and environment, says the concept of using buffer land for energy production could be applied at many installations.

"This would require almost no investment by the Army," Eastin said. "It would be a new way of thinking in the Army - taking advantage of the assets we have."

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