Many believe that the Department of Defense (DoD) is positioned to become the single most important driver of the cleantech revolution in the United States. The military is investing billions in renewable energy and energy efficiency. That’s not surprising given that up to half of the yearly American casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan have been incurred guarding fuel convoys. The army calculates that a 1% increase in fuel efficiency across the fleet would mean 6,444 fewer soldiers involved in convoy operations (source: Paul Skalny, Director, U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center’s National Automotive Center)
. For our military, clean energy is a matter of national security.
On November 9th, E2 New England members and guests were fortunate to hear four unique speakers on this issue, including Representative Niki Tsongas, a local Massachusetts Congresswoman and a member of the House Armed Services Committee. It is not about right or left, it is about right and wrong Dan Nolan
, an energy specialist who served as a principal advisor to General Tommy Franks, began the program. After a distinguished 26-year career in the Army, Dan founded and is now CEO of Sabot6, a strategic consulting firm whose primary focus is on government energy programs. Dan spoke about the general trends in energy consumption by DoD and how the department is pushing towards a net zero philosophy.
The DoD is the nation’s single largest energy user, representing about 1% of the country’s energy use and about 80% of all the energy used by the federal government. Its facilities include 307,000 buildings and it controls 28.6 million acres of land -- about the size of the state of Pennsylvania. In short, DoD is the gorilla in the room.
The military’s use of energy is guided by legislative action and executive orders. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPACT 2005); the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA 2007); and executive orders from both Presidents Bush and Obama sets standards for efficiency and renewables. For example, the 2007 bill mandates that all new and renovated federal buildings must reduce fossil fuel use by 55% (from 2003 levels) by 2010, and 80% by 2020 and new federal buildings must be carbon-neutral by 2030. Renewable energy must account for 25% of all facility energy by 2025. Each of the services has their own plans and targets for meeting their specific goals.
As Dan put it, “DoD has figured out that sustainable operations make sense economically and for security. It is not about right or left, it is about right and wrong.” You can read more on Dan’s DoD Energy Blog
. Energy Battle Plan: Attack Fuel Demand Army Lieutenant Colonel H. Brad Hodge
, Assistant Product Manager for Force Provider, Force Sustainment Systems, described the energy efficiency initiatives in the life support systems for our troops deployed in Afghanistan. Force Provider is a kind of "base in a box" that provides everything that a 600-person camp deployed overseas needs: billeting with environmental control, showers, latrines, laundry, kitchen & dining facilities, power generation & distribution, water storage & distribution, wastewater collection & storage and more.
Future plans include SAGE, which stands for smart and green energy. It’s an integrated across-the-board housing system that includes shelter insulation, solid state lighting, power management and power generation, a commercial hybrid micro grid system integrating generator, renewable power (wind, solar) with energy storage system (batteries) and photovoltaic systems feeding to a commercial hybrid micro grid system.
Waste disposal on a forward operating base is a major issue for our troops, so the Force Provider team is working on a deployable waste to energy systems that will take mixed solid wastes and covert them into a syngas that can fuel a standard generator. The payoff will be enormous when one considers that every gallon of generator fuel consumed or gallon of water delivered requires seven gallons of fuel to get it there. A real world perspective Dan Futrell
, a Truman Security Project Fellow and Iraqi War Veteran shared his stories on how energy affected his operation at the tactical level and how perceptions of US intent with regard to energy resources affected his interactions with potential enemies and friends in Baghdad. His pictures taken in Iraq gave us a sense of the everyday life of a soldier and a real world perspective. He also encouraged all of the CEOs in the room to hire more veterans, especially after the latest employment data indicated a 12.1% unemployment rate among veterans as compared to a 9.1% national rate. The view from Congress
As our final speaker, we were honored to have Congresswoman Niki Tsongas
, a member of the House Armed Services Committee who has been outspoken in her support of our troops, our veterans, and the use of clean energy in the military. Representative Tsongas spoke about the importance of energy as a security issue and praised the work of local business leaders. She noted that the Defense Department is the largest institutional consumer of fossil fuels in the country and that they use more than 300,000 barrels of oil a day and 3.9 billion kilowatt hours of electricity per year.
She pointed out that DoD budgets are heavily affected by fossil fuel price volatility. For example, a $10 rise in the price of a barrel of oil equals a $1.3 billion yearly increase in DoD's yearly energy bill. All of this has led the Defense Department to step up research, development, and use of alternative energy sources. The take away
Our current energy profile leaves our economy and national security highly vulnerable to shortages and the effects of pollution and climate change. The military understands this and is already investing in changing their energy portfolio. Their leadership can help develop the private market for the rest of us.
Many thanks to the law firm of Foley-Hoag for hosting this event.
The presentations for this event can be found here
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