The U.S. military, certainly the nation's largest consumer of energy, is rapidly becoming a leader in the deployment of renewable energy.

The Department of Energy just offered a "conditional commitment for a partial guarantee" of a $344 million loan for a program that will help SolarCity partner with military housing developers to install as many as 160,000 solar rooftops and an estimated 371 megawatts of generating capacity. There were 166,000 photovoltaic installations in the U.S. at the end of Q1 2011, according to GTM Research.

USRG Renewable Finance, a subsidiary of U.S. Renewables Group, will serve as the lead lender for the project in partnership with BofA Merrill Lynch, according to a press release.

This could effectively double the total number of residential solar rooftops in the U.S.

Lyndon Rive, SolarCity’s CEO, said, “Now the solar industry has a debt model that can make distributed generation affordable on a massive scale," according to the release.

This program will also allow SolarCity to make solar inroads into states that have, so far, had very little solar buildout, as well as to create thousands of jobs. The first glimpse of this project came in a story we reported on recently noting that Hickam Communities and SolarCity started construction on one of the largest solar installations in Hawaii at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam for more than 2,000 homes.
 
The program has been dubbed "SolarStrong."
 
We recently reported on a military effort in which The U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Energy teamed up with the Navy to spend up to $510 million over the next three years to advance drop-in biofuels for aviation and marine applications to power the military.

The U.S. Army just announced the creation of an Energy Initiatives Office to help the agency centrally plan and deploy renewable energy projects. The Army is looking to get 25 percent of its power from renewable sources by 2025.
 
The Navy also announced a partnership with the DOE’s research arm, ARPA-E, to develop grid-level energystorage The Navy has set some ambitious clean energy goals for the coming years, including having half of the energy used by the department come from alternative fuel or alternative sources by 2020.

Arun Majumdar, Director of ARPA-E, told Greentech Media that he thought the future of fuels was one of the most exciting areas of research during an interview at the ARPA-E Summit.

"This will be the first time that long-term debt has been successfully deployed to finance a residential distributed generation project at such a large scale," according to Ed Feo, Managing Partner of U.S. Renewable Finance.  

Rhone Resch, CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association, said, "This project draws a line in the sand against foreign sources of energy."