Energy Assurance and Resilience
The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) is the largest single consumer of energy in the United States. It operates over 500,000 buildings and structures with diverse inventory encompassing barracks, commissaries, data centers, office buildings, laboratories, and aircraft maintenance depots. In fiscal year (FY) 2015, DoD’s fixed installations consumed 1% of the total electric energy consumed in the United States, at a cost of almost $4 billion. The majority of these bases are largely dependent on a commercial power grid that is vulnerable to disruption from cyber-attacks, aging infrastructure, weather-related events, and direct attack. Over-reliance on the electric grid is a growing concern to the mission assurance on our military installations.
While some bases have central utility plants from which they can power mission-critical loads in the event of a grid outage, most installations rely on standalone generators to provide emergency backup power. Standalone generators have a low first-cost and are convenient, however this energy assurance solution is not cost-effective due to generator oversizing and high maintenance costs. Additionally, standalone backup generators present a vulnerability as a single-point-of-failure and are not reliable in the field due to poor maintenance practices – an easy target as installations look for ways to cut costs.
New technology and electrical system designs offer improved energy system reliability, increased flexibility and resilience and lower life-cycle costs compared to the current approach of using standalone backup generators. To improve mission assurance, DoD has adopted the following energy strategy for fixed installations to reduce energy costs, increase security, and improve energy resiliency: 
- Reduce the demand for installation energy and water through conservation and efficiency
- Expand the supply distributed (onsite) energy for mission assurance
- Improve the energy grid and storage resilience of installations
- Leverage advanced technology for energy resource efficiencies and increased security
- Improve the cybersecurity of mission-critical facility-related control systems
In line with the DoD’s energy strategy, ESTCP has focused its investments in demonstrating and validating the latest advanced technologies in the following three areas:
- Microgrids – Microgrids are local, self-contained networks of distributed energy resources (conventional generators, battery energy storage and renewable energy systems) and electrical loads, that offer energy security and resiliency to the installation due to their ability to operate connected to the commercial grid and autonomously (islanded mode) in the event of grid outage.
- Energy Storage – Microgrids with low-cost, large-scale energy storage systems (ESSs) have potential to enhance energy security on military installations by facilitating integration of more renewable energy and reducing single-point-of-failure vulnerabilities associated with tradition electric service and back-up generators.
- Cybersecurity – Cyber-attack is one of the fastest growing threats to DoD installations’ information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT). As facilities incorporate more networked (“smart”) devices to improve efficiency and increase capability, threat and vulnerability to cyber-attacks has also increased. Improved cybersecurity technology and processes are critical in order to realize the benefits of new advanced technologies and to protect against increasingly sophisticated cyber-threats.
 “Power Begins at Home: Assured Energy for U.S. Military Bases,” Commissioned by The Pew Charitable Trusts, January 12, 2017, https://noblis.org/power-begins-at-home/.