Lighting the path to Net Zero: British Army plays its part

Energy and Power April 14, 2021

By Mike Kelly, RSK Renewable Energy Business Development Director

As the UK moves towards its goal of carbon net zero it will be important that everyone plays their part, from ‘big industry’ through to individual households. In that context, the British Army is clearly promoting and advancing a significant set of integrated initiatives that cover embedded renewable energy generation and use (including ‘on site’ charging of electric vehicles), thermal energy storage, development of energy management systems, and habitat creation/natural capital research. This includes, most recently, the news that the British Army will launch the defence’s first photovoltaic solar farm at the Defence School of Transport (DST), Leconfield. Construction started on the four-hectare, 2.3MW solar farm earlier this year, which will supply the DST with one-third of its electricity needs. It is the first of four pilot sites, which will together result in £1-million in efficiency savings and reduce emissions by 2,000 tCO2e (tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent) per year.

The British Army represents both significant users of energy and also custodians of considerable tracts of land. This opens up the significant potential for the development of generation on-site and, whilst the four pilot sites delivered as part of Project PROMETHEUS are a definite step in the right direction, the ability and need to ‘scale up’ is clear. This is recognised by Major General David Southall, who commented, “Project PROMETHEUS is an exciting pilot which will showcase renewable energy generation across the Army estate. When operational, we will learn from our four pilot sites and scale-up fast across the wider Army estate to help decarbonise the power we use”. Engaging with Centrica Business Solutions will surely enable the scaling up process and it will be interesting, in light of the British Army’s integrated approach, to see their ambitions with respect to the generation and/or use of renewable heat also.

From an overall British Armed Forces perspective, this follows on from measures such as changes to the Ministry of Defence’s aviation fuel standards (promoting more sustainable fuel use by the RAF), which came into effect in late 2020, and also the recent publication of the MOD’s Climate Change and Sustainability Strategic Approach with initial targets focused on 2025 in making the steps to a more sustainable future and carbon net zero. Overall, it is a great example of what is required to effect change meaningfully, while at the same time recognising that a joined-up approach is needed to see significant change. The other ongoing projects supporting the UK Net Zero legislation are listed at

  • Project TAURUS: A solar carport at British Army Headquarters with electric car charging ports and battery storage. A second phase is planned for six further solar carports across all regions
  • Project KELPIE: A pilot for thermal battery storage
  • Buildings Efficiency Management Systems (BEMS): To improve sub-metering across the estate
  • Near Zero Energy Buildings (NZEB): To enhance the energy efficiency of single living accommodation (SLA)
  • Project ROMULUS: The development of an information system to detail each building and facilities’ carbon footprint. This system, or “digital twin,” collects and collates data on how the infrastructure operates which is then used to drive real-world decisions
  • Project MARKER: A habitat creation scheme and a natural capital research project with Exeter University.[1]