The United States Department of Defense is an executive branch department of the federal government of the United States charged with coordinating and supervising all agencies and functions of the U.S. government directly related to national security and the United States Armed Forces.

The Pentagon will soon feature rooftop solar panels, a key component of President Biden’s initiative to boost clean energy in federal buildings. This move is part of a broader plan by the Biden administration to position the federal government as a leader in sustainability.

This initiative includes 31 government sites benefiting from $104 million in Energy Department grants, aiming to double the federal facilities’ carbon-free electricity generation. This effort will create 27 megawatts of clean-energy capacity and draw over $361 million in private investment.

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks, and Brenda Mallory, chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, unveiled these projects at the Pentagon. The Pentagon’s upgrades include not only solar panels but also a heat pump system and solar thermal panels to reduce dependency on gas and fuel oil systems.

Brendan Owens, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Energy, Installations, and Environment, emphasized the significance of these projects for enhancing energy resilience and reliability at military sites in the U.S. and Germany. Solar panels at the Pentagon will provide an uninterrupted power supply in case of cyberattacks or other power grid disruptions.


2nd Cavalry Regiment Soldiers demonstrate dismount tactics at Exercise Slovak Shield 2016, Oct. 13, 2016, at Military Training Area Lest, Slovak Republic. U.S. Soldiers participated in Slovak Shield as a part of Operation Atlantic Resolve. /U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Micah VanDyke

Given the Pentagon’s location in congested airspace near Washington, D.C., and its status as a historic landmark, solar panels emerged as the optimal clean energy solution. The project will comply with local requirements and historic preservation standards.

The program also extends to Naval bases in Georgia and Washington state, as well as other federal departments, including Energy, Commerce, Transportation, Interior, Veterans Affairs, and several administrative agencies. These projects include window upgrades, efficiency improvements, and solar installations.

A notable project is the transformation of Hawaii’s Mauna Loa Observatory into a net-zero emissions facility. Since a volcanic eruption disrupted operations in November, the facility has faced limited access and operational challenges. The new solar panel and battery installations aim to restore full functionality and improve climate resilience.

This funding, part of the Assisting Federal Facilities with Energy Conservation Technologies (AFFECT) program from the 2021 infrastructure law, totals $250 million. It aligns with Biden’s 2021 executive order targeting a 65% reduction in federal greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and net-zero federal buildings by 2045.

Other projects include solar installations at the U.S. Army Garrison in Wiesbaden, Germany, and the Maui Air Traffic Control Tower in Hawaii, focusing on energy and water efficiency.

Additionally, the Interior Department announced an update and expansion of an Obama-era plan to promote solar power on public lands in the West. This new plan adds five states for potential solar development and identifies about 22 million acres for solar projects, supporting the nation’s clean energy goals.

Derick Lila
Derick is a Clark University graduate—and Fulbright alumni with a Master's Degree in Environmental Science, and Policy. He has over a decade of solar industry research, marketing, and content strategy experience.

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