20090813 pm solar energy
Damon Corkern, who works for ECS Solar Energy Systems, Inc, installs a solar panel system on the roof of a home in Gainesville, Fla. - 

Jeremy Hobson: Today the Pentagon rolls out new plans for saving energy. The military is looking for savings on its $15 billion fuel bill.

But as Marketplace's Scott Tong reports from our Sustainability Desk, cutting consumption is also about saving lives.

Scott Tong: The Army measures the cost of energy in lives: one casualty every 24 fuel convoys in Afghanistan. In dollars terms, one study estimates $45 a gallon, factoring in transportation and military protection in hostile places.

Today's announcement will incorporate various goals: the Air Force wants half its fuel to come from bio-sources by 2016. The Navy plans a whole strike group -- warships, submarines, jets -- powered by nuclear and biofuels.

Ray Mabus: The main thing we can do is create the market.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus says the military can help commercialize new fuels by promising to buy large amounts.

Mabus: By 2020, we'll have a market of 8 million barrels of alternative fuels. As you scale up, price almost automatically comes down.

But skeptics wonder if new fuels are more than a decade away, and if this is another Pentagon fad that'll fall out of fashion.

In Washington, I'm Scott Tong for Marketplace.

Follow Scott Tong at @tongscott