DOD Seeks to Boost Use of Alternative Fuels

WASHINGTON, Dec. 1, 2011 — The Defense Depart­ment con­tin­ues to seek ways to enhance ener­gy secu­ri­ty while invest­ing in alter­na­tive fuel resources, a senior Pen­ta­gon offi­cial said here today dur­ing a con­fer­ence at George­town Uni­ver­si­ty.

“Mil­i­tary oper­a­tions are a fair­ly ener­gy-intense under­tak­ing, and ener­gy secu­ri­ty is par­tic­u­lar­ly impor­tant to our abil­i­ty to project mil­i­tary pow­er and to pro­tect the nation,” said Edward Thomas More­house Jr., prin­ci­pal deputy assis­tant sec­re­tary of defense for oper­a­tional ener­gy plans and pro­grams.

“The avail­abil­i­ty of those trans­porta­tion fuels is par­tic­u­lar­ly crit­i­cal,” More­house said. “Of all of the con­sum­ables, of all the com­modi­ties that we use in the Depart­ment of Defense, … ener­gy and fuel have a par­tic­u­lar [func­tion­al­i­ty].”

More­house par­tic­i­pat­ed in a sev­en-mem­ber pan­el that dis­cussed alter­na­tive fuels and ener­gy secu­ri­ty dur­ing the Com­mer­cial Avi­a­tion Alter­na­tive Fuels Ini­tia­tive Con­fer­ence. He not­ed how crit­i­cal fuel is on an oper­a­tional lev­el for the Defense Depart­ment.

“With­out fuel, the air­planes don’t fly, the ships don’t steam and the tanks don’t roll, so this is a very impor­tant issue to us,” he said. “It was rec­og­nized in our 2010 Qua­dren­ni­al Defense Review and we have a num­ber of ener­gy-relat­ed risks with­in the depart­ment.”

More­house not­ed some of the longer-term risks are strate­gic, glob­al and relat­ed to ener­gy mar­kets and price volatil­i­ty.

“[These risks are] relat­ed to the increas­ing­ly con­cen­trat­ed sources of petro­le­um world­wide get­ting in the hands of actors who are not always nec­es­sar­i­ly friend­ly to our caus­es,” he said. More­house also high­light­ed inher­ent risks the depart­ment faces while trans­port­ing fuel from the point where it is bought com­mer­cial­ly to where it is used on the bat­tle­field.

“First and fore­most, our real near-term ener­gy chal­lenge is to reduce the amount of stuff we have to haul,” he said. “We buy it at a refin­ery, and we move it to forces that are for­ward deployed. Often times, we have to move that fuel through areas which are con­test­ed by our adver­saries.”

More­house not­ed that the Defense Depart­ment now ver­i­fies that sys­tems could use alter­na­tive fuels as they are devel­oped.

“We were an ear­ly pio­neer in cer­ti­fy­ing our own sys­tems to use the fuel to pro­vide con­fi­dence that the fuels were viable,” More­house said. “We have also con­tin­ued that cer­ti­fi­ca­tion pro­gram to make sure that all the sys­tems in our inven­to­ry are capa­ble of using the fuels when they become avail­able.

“We are also engaged in demon­stra­tion projects,” he added, “to buy fuels and to fly squadrons of air­planes, to sail fleets of ships and to demon­strate that these fuels have the poten­tial to be used oper­a­tional­ly.”

More­house shared some of the Pentagon’s future oper­a­tional ener­gy strat­e­gy.

“We’ve got a num­ber of mile­stones laid in with­in our own pro­grams about what we will cer­ti­fy by when and what we will demon­strate by cer­tain time frames,” he said. “And those imply var­i­ous pur­chas­es of fuel between now and 2016 and 2020.”

DOD offi­cials expect invest­ments in the alter­na­tive fuels indus­try “will get us to a place where alter­na­tive fuels are sus­tain­able, scal­able and afford­able,” More­house said.

He praised the gov­ern­ment-indus­try part­ner­ships that address ener­gy secu­ri­ty and the need to devel­op­ment alter­na­tive fuels.

“I want to say thanks,” More­house said, “for all the great part­ner­ships that we’ve had with the Depart­ment of Defense and our oth­er agen­cies and with the civil­ian sec­tor to move this issue along.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)