Marines Claim First “Net Zero” Military Base

June 10, 2022

A Marine Corps logistics installation in Georgia has laid claim to the U.S. military’s first “net zero” base by producing as much energy from renewable energy sources as it used.

Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, a 3,579-acre base in Dougherty County, Georgia, used steam created by a neighboring biomass fuel plant to power facilities on base. The base was also able to export excess steam energy to a local electric utility provider, allowing it to claim “net zero” status.

“The Marine Corps is proactively investing in efficient new facilities infrastructure through partnerships with private industry to improve the energy security posture of its installations and to deliver energy resilient capabilities,” said Marine Corps Installations Command public works directed Walter Ludwig. “This means our installations will be able to maintain essential function and critical services during a prolonged outage, ensure the success of the warfighter.”

Marine Corps officials partnered with ReEnergy Energy Holding LLC’s Albany Green Energy biomass project, which uses woody material, known as woody biomass, from mill residue, forest waste and agricultural waste to produce the 8.5 megwatts of steam energy used by the base.

MCLB Albany used a combination of energy saving modifications and electricity provided by a neighboring biomass plant to power the base. USMC photo

Base officials also undertook several energy-saving measures on base, including installing new LED lighting; base-wide heating, ventilation and condition upgrades; geothermal storage heat pumps; and borehole thermal energy storage.

The base used between 8 and 11 megawatts of energy during the summer and between 4 and 6 megawatts during winter but was still able to sell 7.9 megawatt hours of its energy to Georgia Power, the local energy utility.

The Marine Corps’ success is part of a Navy-wide effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prepare Navy and Marine Corps facilities to operate in the face of changing climate conditions and worsening climate impacts.

The Department of the Navy in May released its strategy for addressing climate change and meeting the Biden administration’s goal of government-wide net-zero greenhouse gas emission by 2050.

“Climate change is one of the most destabilizing forces of our time, exacerbating other national security concerns and posing serious readiness challenges,” Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro wrote in the strategy’s introduction. “Our naval forces, the United States Navy and Marine Corps, are in the crosshairs of the climate crisis: the threat increases instability and demands on our forces while simultaneously impacting our capacity to respond to those demands.”

The Department of the Navy will attempt to cut 5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent pollution each year by 2027 and undertake other energy consumption reduction and resilience efforts.

The Marine Corps has considered relocating some bases on the East coast, including Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island and Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, due to impending climate-induced changes in coming decades that could place a majority of both installations under water by the end of the century.

Naval Support Activity Crane, in Crane, Indiana, in 2021 renewed an Educational Partnership Agreement with Indiana University, which included multiple projects including net-zero building analysis and recommendations for increasing the base’s use of sustainable energy.

The U.S. Army released its own climate strategy in February. The Army plans to power all of its installations with purchased carbon-free electricity by 2030 and plans to install renewable energy microgrids at every installation by 2035 to provide its own carbon-free electricity to all facilities by 2040. The Army is considering using mobile nuclear microreactors to power its remote outposts.

Marines Claim First “Net Zero” Military Base