In the first of a two-part series on energy efficiency as a military capability, Sharon McManus outlines the European Defence Agency’s management of energy challenges experienced by Europe's armed forces

When the general public thinks of the military, they rarely think of energy efficiency or environmental protection. But for years, the militaries of Europe have been focused on maximising energy efficiency on operations – not necessarily because of environmental concerns, but due to the requirement for efficient mission accomplishment.

Operational energy is defined by the US Armed Forces as “energy required for training, moving and sustaining military forces and weapons platforms for military operations”. Energy has for centuries been a fundamental enabler of military operations. However, there is complexity to moving energy supplies to where they are needed most, especially in the last tactical mile of resupply due to poor lines of communication, risk from explosive devices and other ambush attacks.

These factors can impose huge costs, monetary and human, on a resupply operation. Therefore, ‘energy efficiency’ is critically important to armed forces if they wish to improve military capabilities, unit autonomy and operational resilience on the battlefield. But energy efficiency does not apply just to deployed operations. In keeping with the adage ‘we train as we fight’, it is imperative that military forces operate in an energy-efficient manner at home also in order to be able to transfer that skill to operations conducted in overseas theatres.

The following article is a brief summary of the European Defence Agency’s approach to managing energy challenges experienced by European Armed Forces. In the next issue of the eJournal, we will read about the Irish Defence Force’s experience with managing energy challenges over the past ten years.


Monitoring conditions to maximise energy savings in Mali

In 2011, the European Defence Agency (EDA) launched the first European-targeted approach to managing energy in the military with its ‘Military Green’ initiative. Combining the EU military concept for Environmental Protection and Energy Efficiency, individual armed forces priorities and EU directives, ‘Military Green’ defined a concept, principles and responsibilities to meet the energy and environmental challenges of European militaries.

It also attempted to bring all relevant stakeholders together in order to establish a common understanding of what role the defence and crisis-management community can play in contributing to the EU’s energy and environmental goals.

The EDA ‘Military Green’ initiative inspired the establishment of a dedicated Energy and Environment Working Group by the EDA, which has been in place since 2014 and takes a comprehensive approach to addressing energy issues for military activities. The approach is a simple one comprising steps such as understanding strategic drivers, defining the scope of the challenge through data collection and analysis, educating and informing, focusing on energy efficiency and then finally on alternative renewable energy sources.

Unfortunately, experience shows that many organisations prefer to adopt new technology and renewable options first, expecting to see a rapid decrease in energy use. Organisations that have employed an energy-management systems approach have seen significant improvements in energy efficiencies and environmental impact. Those that have not, generally see brief decreases in energy use followed by a gradual increase over time.

The following paragraphs outline some of the challenges that European Armed Forces are facing today and the measures that the EDA is recommending to meet some of those challenges.

European Defence Agency

CLICK TO ENLARGE: EDA Energy & Environment Programme

The importance of strategic drivers

Understanding the energy strategic drivers for the military (e.g. cost, resilience, force protection, environmental concerns, security of supply, autonomy, legal requirements etc.) can be difficult as there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach and individual Member States (MS) have different priorities and policies. In fact, even within the armed forces of individual MS, the priority areas and strategic drivers will vary across the many military services, branches and corps.

Therefore, we need to understand how and where energy is used. We need to integrate all of the stakeholders in a cross-functional system that allows for bespoke and systematic military solutions to be created for each individual challenge. Obviously, the challenges faced by land forces are different to those faced by the navy and air force and the complexities of each need to be understood and managed in a manner appropriate to each domain.

To date, there has been no global capture of military energy usage at European Union level. All available statistics are based on interpolation and estimations. Individual MS can produce relevant data and work has recently begun in EDA on a data collection programme. This data collection, analysis and sharing (DCAS) process aims to collect information from MS, at a macro and non-sensitive level, on the significant energy military related users of energy and fuel sources.

This data will initially be used to prove or disprove the assumption that the military is one of the biggest single energy-using sectors in Europe. It will then be used to define the scale and complexity of the challenge facing the sector and seek to assist MS in setting priority areas for attention in terms of R&D, procurement, design and operational control over the coming years.

EDA initiatives to match objectives

1) Energy Management Systems (EnMS)

A comprehensive Energy Management Systems (EnMS) training course will be offered to MS to educate and assist them in applying a systems-based approach to energy management. In addition to classroom activity, this course will provide mentoring to aid Member States to apply the principles of the system in their own armed-forces environment.

2) Smart Energy Camp Technical Demonstrator

The Smart Energy Camp Technical Demonstrator in the EU Training Mission Camp in Mali is the first of its kind to be deployed into an operational, multinational camp and has three main objectives:

  • to test and verify the efficiency of various types of flexible, combat suitable photovoltaic panels in specific climatic conditions and test the integration of renewables with battery storage in a deployment scenario;
  • to test ‘demand management’ technology and its impact on inhabitants;
  • to collect reliable data for analysis and sharing with MS and to develop benchmarks for planning support tools for CSDP operations.

BAE Systems is the contractor for this project. An electric microgrid system integrated into the power generation grid for the camp supplied 33% of the test building’s electrical load and 40% of the peak load and allowed all rooms to have functioning air-conditioning when no external supply was available. MS are now considering the next phase of this project including an upscaling of the equipment installed to provide more renewable power to the camp, water management technologies, waste management technologies including waste to energy conversion and further efficiency measures.

European Defence Agency 3

CLICK TO ENLARGE: Smart Blue Water Camps

3) Smart Blue Water Camps

The Smart Blue Water Camps Project focuses on water management techniques and technology interventions to significantly reduce water comsumption for fixed military installations. The project aims to achieve improved Security of Supply, Environmental Impact Reduction, Cost Savings, better Environmental Awareness and Project Replicability. Five MS are participating in the project. The project will be carried out in two phases, investigation and assessment followed by implementation, monitoring and knowledge transfer.

The Consultation Forum for Sustainable Energy in the Defence and Security Sector (CF SEDSS)

This is a unique platform funded by the European Commission to engage Ministries of Defence and armed forces in a European Defence Energy Network (EDEN) to improve energy management, energy efficiency and to increase the use of renewable energy on fixed military installations in Europe. The focus of the work, through three parallel working groups, is on assessing and implementing the existing EU energy legislation specifically the Energy Efficiency Directive, the Energy Performance in Buildings Directive and the Renewable Energy Directive.

The objectives of the Forum are:

  • to assess where EU energy legislation is applicable to the defence sector and more importantly where it is not;
  • to stimulate projects in key areas; and
  • to identify funding streams for such projects.

A series of five meetings is planned over a two-year period and the process is managed by the European Defence Agency as the main interlocutors between EU policies and EU armed forces. The first forum meeting took place in Brussels in January 2016, the second takes place in Dublin in June 2016 and the third will take place in Italy in November 2016. Two further meetings will take place in 2017.

For further information on the Consultation Forum meeting, which takes place on 8 and 9 June in the Croke Park Conference Centre in Dublin, please go to this website

The way ahead


Solar panels on the roof of the EU Training Mission, Mali

The EDA provides a platform for MS to focus on energy challenges, both operationally and domestically in a collaborative way and provides a unique opportunity for armed forces to develop energy efficiency, resilience and autonomy in cooperation with their national programmes and other organisations such as NATO through its energy security agenda and the International Energy Agency.

This platform provides an opportunity to bring experts together and to drive forward this well accepted but not, as yet, well-developed military capability. There are many challenges to be overcome not least of which is the identification of the strategic drivers which will motivate individual armed forces to invest financially and psychologically in this cross-functional task. Energy is more than a commodity.

It is as essential to mission accomplishment as food, water and ammunition. Military energy efficiency, resilience and autonomy are key to sustaining operations at home and overseas, and advances in this field of military energy will benefit the wider national economic and environmental strategic objectives of each Member State and of Europe.

For more information on any of the projects outlined above, please email

Sharon McManusSharon McManus is the European Defence Agency Energy Project Officer and is responsible for leading both the EDAs Energy & Environment Working Group and the Consultation Forum for Sustainable Energy in the Defence & Security Sector. She has a bachelors degree in civil engineering, a masters degree in energy engineering and has 20 yearsservice as an engineer corps officer of the Irish Defence Forces, where she has worked in both combat and infrastructural roles. Sharon served on deployment with UNMIL, KFOR and MINURCAT missions. She was the Defence Forces Energy Manager between 2007 and 2012 when the Irish Defence Forces were accredited as the first Defence Forces in the World to ISO 50001 International Energy Management Standard. O'RiordanElecDefence Forces Army,Department of Defence,energy,environment
When the general public thinks of the military, they rarely think of energy efficiency or environmental protection. But for years, the militaries of Europe have been focused on maximising energy efficiency on operations – not necessarily because of environmental concerns, but due to the requirement for efficient mission accomplishment. Operational...