Pentagon Tasks West Point Cadets With Finding Out How To Make The School Carbon-Neutral

Screenshot / West Point - The U.S. Military Academy / YouTube /

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Micaela Burrow Investigative Reporter, Defense
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Department of Defense (DOD) deputy secretary Kathleen Hicks charged West Point cadets with determining how successful initiatives to make the academy reliant on renewable energy will be at a virtual meeting Tuesday, according to a DOD readout.

The Pentagon’s Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment (ASA [IE&E]) began offering $750,000 each year for cadets’ capstone projects in 2022 — last year, cadets worked on challenges associated with electrifying tactical vehicles and heavy-duty non-tactical vehicles, Pentagon Spokesman Eric Pahon said in the statement. For the 2023-2024 school year, cadets will support the goal of making the U.S. Army’s officer-producing university “100% energy resilient using carbon-pollution free electricity,” the statement read.

One of the capstone projects will assess whether West Point can power the installation’s North Dock with a microturbine that would extract excess energy from gasses released from waste products, including “decaying food scraps, fats, oils and grease (FOG) and wastewater sludge,” according to the statement. Another requires cadets to work out the cost-efficiency and technical demands of overhauling West Point’s electricity, heat, and transportation infrastructure to reduce carbon emissions and overall energy costs. (RELATED: GOP Bill Aims To Make EV Batteries Less Likely To Explode)

West Point and ASA established a partnership program, the Sustainable Infrastructure, Resilience, and Climate Consortium (SIRCC), to “address resilience- and climate-related challenges facing the Army and the nation.”

At the video call Tuesday, Hicks “thanked the nine cadets and lieutenant for their commitment to service and discussed the SIRCC program and how future Army leaders might approach the challenge of sustainability, resilience, and future climate-related issues,” according to the statement.

The project is also supposed to develop a “sustainability, resilience, and climate community of interest that helps USMA remain competitive in attracting and retaining talent,” according to the statement.

Hicks will visit West Point next week to give a speech on climate change and how the DOD sees its potential impact on future military operations, the statement said.

DOD has elevated climate change as a strategic priority in recent years, doubling down on efforts to introduce renewable energy sources and increase energy, saying measures will help increase resilience against anticipated extreme weather events. The Army aims to electrify its non-combat vehicle fleet by 2035, and to fully electrify its combat vehicle fleet by 2050, according to the service’s strategy for adapting to so-called climate change events, released November 2022

The Pentagon plans to increase the number and resiliency of energy sources to withstand extreme weather conditions associated with climate change, including building solar-power microgrids and adding military installations to a DOD Climate Assessment Tool to “support climate-informed decision making,” with a goal of 100% use by 2024, a strategy document shows.

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