US Marine Corps: Leadership in solar power

May 28, 2019 | 3min read

As solar panels begin popping up more in neighborhoods everywhere, it’s clear to see that the world is changing for the better. But one big solar user that you might not expect? United States Marines! The Marine Corps sees solar power as a critical component of mission readiness. They even have an entire command dedicated to the installation and use of solar power. The Marine Corps Installations Command (MCIC) has a shared vision that solar “powers all efforts, from crucial training and logistics on installations to the warfighter and operating bases in the field.”

This shared belief has made the Marines Corps a leader in the adoption of solar power and renewable energy technology.


Solar energy on the homefront

On base, the Marine Corps relies on solar energy to “increase installation energy security and resiliency, while bolstering energy independence. The electrical grid is vulnerable to attack. According to the New York Times: The grid has in fact been attacked by enemy forces already. The Marine Corps considers it vital for its operational bases to achieve energy independence. This is because if the grid is taken out by an attacker, mission-critical functions on base will continue uninterrupted.

Major solar power installations on USMC bases

The Marine Corps has backed up its commitment to renewable energy by installing several solar farms across the nation including:

  • Marine Corps Base (MCB) Camp Lejeune
  • Marine Corps Logistics Base (MCLB)
  • Camp Pendleton in Oceanside, California. Fun fact ‑ this solar farm can provide up to 50% of the bases’ needs for power on a good day. Plus, they are installing energy storage solutions to provide power when the sun isn’t shining.

That is just a partial list of all the Marine bases that are going solar. Solar power also follows marines out to the battlefield.

Solar energy at war

Refueling convoys are among some of the most dangerous jobs on the battlefield. Solar and other renewable energy technologies reduce the need for refueling convoys. It also keeps critical communication up and running even when fuel runs out.

Solar power on the battlefield

  • The Ground Renewable Expeditionary Energy Network System (GREENS) is a portable, solar-power-generation system. It produces enough output to power an entire battalion combat operations center.
  • The Solar Portable Alternative Communications Energy System (SPACES) helps to increase battlefield effectiveness by recharging batteries needed for radios and other communications equipment.

Department of Defense: Climate change is a threat to national security

The Marine Corps leadership in the renewable energy sector isn’t surprising. Climate change has been identified as a significant threat to national security. It’s no secret that the national electrical grid is vulnerable to attack. Additionally, climate change is expected to produce millions of climate refugees in the coming decades. Especially devastating for those that live in the dry southwest is the fact that high temperatures cause devastating fires.

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US Marine Corps. (2019) MCCS Forward. Web 14 May 2019.

Emmanuel Ecoechea (2019) Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. Web 14 May 2019.