DAF already taking steps to meet Climate Action Plan goals

  • Published
  • Secretary of the Air Force Energy, Installations, and Environment

The Department of the Air Force recently released its Climate Action Plan formulated in foresight and response to climate change and its reshaping of the increasingly complex global security environment. DAF installations are implementing innovative solutions and pilot programs to meet the goals outlined in the plan, bolstering mission readiness through installation energy resilience.

Priority one places emphasis on modernizing infrastructure and investing in climate-ready installations to maintain air and space dominance in the face of climate risks. Infrastructure is the foundation on which installations project airpower and readiness, which makes securing these assets a top priority for the force.

Initiatives are underway to assess climate effects, modernize infrastructure, and adapt installations to minimize impacts from future climate threats. For example, MacDill Air Force Base, Florida has partnered with the local community to build oyster reefs as a nature-based solution to combat erosion and buffer against storm surges. MacDill AFB’s eastern shoreline is prone to coastal erosion, and oyster reefs aid in stabilizing the shoreline as well as improving MacDill AFB’s vast natural habitats and water quality. The build is part of an ongoing Oyster Reef Shoreline Stabilization project, which started in 2004, and is helping to enhance installation and community resilience and local ecosystem.

In support of priority two, to make climate-informed decisions, the DAF has begun working to incorporate climate attributes into their policy and practice to make energy and infrastructure projects resilient to climate impacts while maximizing operational capability and reducing greenhouse gas emissions where possible.

Priority three focuses on pursuing alternative energy sources, optimizing energy usage and working toward 100% carbon-pollution free electricity and zero emission vehicle targets. The DAF is realizing the key objectives outlined in this priority through innovative investments and pilot programs at installations across the country.

In September 2022, the DAF released its request for proposal of its first micro-reactor at Eielson AFB, Alaska. This groundbreaking pilot program will use small nuclear reactors to produce up to five megawatts of safe, reliable and clean energy to supplement current installation energy sources. The technology’s ability to operate independently from the commercial grid and reduce greenhouse gas emissions make micro-reactors a promising power source for remote domestic military installations critical to national security infrastructure.

Additionally, Edwards AFB, California, will complete one of the country's largest solar array projects in 2022, adding 464 MW of renewable electricity to the grid and enhancing energy resilience for the installation and community. This effort builds on initiatives from installations like Hill AFB, Utah, and Vandenberg Space Force Base, California, to augment base power supply with solar energy.

In alignment with the CAP, priority three and Executive Orders 14008 and 14057, the DAF also plans to convert 100% of its eligible non-tactical vehicle fleet to zero-emission vehicles by 2035. With more than 48,000 vehicular assets across installations, the DAF sees fleet electrification as an opportunity to improve resiliency, decrease operation and maintenance costs, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

In December 2021, the DAF kicked off this ambitious effort at two pilot sites, Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, and JB McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, to help understand infrastructure risks and determine preferred functional requirements for vehicles. In 2022, the Department kicked off efforts at 15 additional installations and is working rigorously to develop policy guidance in pursuit of full new terrain vehicle fleet electrification conversion.

The DAF is leveraging existing energy resilience efforts – like Installation Development Plans, Installation Energy Plans, and Energy Resilience Readiness Exercises – to ensure this transition is done with future needs and mission capabilities in mind.

These initiatives showcase the important steps that the DAF is taking to elevate readiness, develop next-generation energy technology to enhance installation energy resilience, realize the objectives outlined in the Climate Action Plan, and ultimately create global longevity of the environment and future force.