The military is the one area where government spending on R&D is tolerated by the GOP. Republicans tried to gut the Department of Energy’s hugely successful ARPA-E program during the last budget fight, but left DoD’s DARPA virtually untouched. But Defense is picking up the slack by demonstrating a practical application of clean energy: to fight and win wars!
It’s fantastic to see the military take the lead on this when the rest of us in the clean energy space have had such difficulty. Using energy innovation to save the lives of American servicemen – that’s a proposition the Grand Oil Party can’t argue with.
1. One soldier is wounded or killed for every 50 convoys transporting fuel.
2. The U.S. military uses more energy than two-thirds of the world’s nations.
3. The military has demonstrated that clean energy can fully power the world’s most demanding endeavors. Three bases in Afghanistan run almost entirely on solar power.
The military has a history of technological innovation that has huge carry-on benefits for civilian uses (see the INTERNET, microwave etc.). Let’s hope their leadership on clean energy is a harbinger of broader acceptance stateside.
DoD official: Clean tech saves lives
By Darius Dixon
4/26/11 1:49 PM EDT
Clean energy development is a race to the battlefield as much as to the marketplace, a top Defense Department official said Tuesday.
Case in point: U.S. soldiers fighting in Afghanistan during routine patrols carry about 18 pounds of batteries apiece for radios and other equipment. That’s a burden they shouldn’t have to bear, Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn III said during a White House panel discussion on energy security.
New energy technology and efficiency save lives along vulnerable U.S. supply lines by reducing fuel shipments that are prone to insurgents’ ambushes or bombing attacks, he said.
“More than 70 percent of the convoys in Afghanistan are used just for fuel or water,” Lynn said, adding that more than 3,000 troops and contractors have been killed or wounded protecting those types of convoys.
And the Pentagon’s $15 billion annual energy bill, one that “consumes more energy than is used by two-thirds of all the nations on earth,” is largely dependent on foreign sources, Lynn said.
Last year, the Pentagon and the Energy Department entered into a partnership to promote energy efficiency and clean technology throughout the U.S. military.
“Clean energy technology is one way to lighten the load and give our troops more capability,” Lynn said. He said marines in Afghanistan started deploying solar panels in Helmand Province last fall so that two bases in the region now run completely on solar power and a third cut its consumption of diesel fuel by more than 90 percent.
The deployment of flexible solar panels, he added, reduced soldiers’ need for battery resupply on extended missions.