Lynn: Defense Department Seeks Energy Revolution

WASHINGTON, July 19, 2011 — Advances in ener­gy tech­nol­o­gy that increase warfight­er capa­bil­i­ty not only help the Defense Depart­ment pro­tect the nation, but also accom­plish two oth­er impor­tant objec­tives, Deputy Defense Sec­re­tary William J. Lynn III said here today.

“They boost the com­pet­i­tive­ness of Amer­i­can indus­try, and they raise our nation’s over­all ener­gy effi­cien­cy,” Lynn said dur­ing a keynote speech at the Army and Air Force Ener­gy Forum. 

New devel­op­ments in ener­gy his­tor­i­cal­ly have bol­stered the nation’s mil­i­tary edge, Lynn said. The shift from wind to coal in the 19th cen­tu­ry rev­o­lu­tion­ized naval pow­er, and nuclear ener­gy in the 20th cen­tu­ry trans­formed sub­marines and air­craft car­ri­ers, he noted. 

“Our mas­tery of ener­gy tech­nol­o­gy both enabled our nation to emerge as a great pow­er, and gave us a strate­gic edge in the Cold War,” he said. 

Stay­ing at the cut­ting edge of ener­gy tech­nol­o­gy remains crit­i­cal to the country’s mil­i­tary suprema­cy, Lynn said, even as the nature of war itself is changing. 

The recent wars have been long and far from home, and the nature of the fight leaves the U.S. “logis­ti­cal tail” vul­ner­a­ble to attacks, he said. 

“A major­i­ty of the con­voys into Afghanistan now are used for fuel,” he said. “We haul these sup­plies on roads laced with [explo­sives] and prone to ambush. More than 3,000 troops and con­trac­tors have been killed or wound­ed pro­tect­ing these convoys.” 

New ener­gy tech­nol­o­gy may reduce that risk to forces, and can make drawn-out deploy­ments less cost­ly, he said. 

“Our cur­rent ener­gy tech­nol­o­gy is not now opti­mized for the bat­tle­field of today, and cer­tain­ly not tomor­row,” Lynn said. “We need to make invest­ments to change that.” 

For the past decade, DOD has met new secu­ri­ty chal­lenges with more spend­ing, Lynn said. 

“Going for­ward, we will not have that lux­u­ry,” he not­ed. “We are going to have to make hard choic­es about how to real­lo­cate the resources we already have.” 

The Defense Depart­ment accounts for 80 per­cent of the fed­er­al government’s ener­gy use and about 1 per­cent of the nation’s, Lynn said. Three-quar­ters of DOD-con­sumed ener­gy direct­ly sup­ports oper­a­tions, and the cost is ris­ing, he said. 

“Last year, we spent $15 bil­lion on ener­gy,” he said. “We are spend­ing 225 per­cent more on gaso­line than we did a decade ago.” 

DOD’s ener­gy strat­e­gy address­es both increas­ing ener­gy costs and the need for bet­ter ener­gy effi­cien­cy, he said. 

“The strat­e­gy is premised on the notion that a new gen­er­a­tion of mil­i­tary tech­nolo­gies that use and store ener­gy more effi­cient­ly will only emerge if we change how we do busi­ness, espe­cial­ly in acqui­si­tion,” he said. 

The future force will be more capa­ble, but also will con­sume more ener­gy, Lynn said. The Defense Depart­ment now will include ener­gy costs in its assess­ment of pro­posed new sys­tems, he added. 

“So in addi­tion to tra­di­tion­al per­for­mance para­me­ters such as speed, range and pay­load, we’ll now con­sid­er sys­tem ener­gy per­for­mance para­me­ters in the require­ments and acqui­si­tion process,” he said. 

Lynn said ana­lyz­ing ener­gy costs dur­ing the “analy­sis of alter­na­tives” phase of major defense acqui­si­tion pro­grams not only will ensure warfight­ers get the speed, range and pow­er they require, but also help the depart­ment man­age the life-cycle costs of its systems. 

The ener­gy analy­sis also will help DOD plan­ners bet­ter under­stand the ener­gy foot­print of deployed forces and the human and finan­cial costs of mov­ing fuel into a the­ater of war, the deputy sec­re­tary said. 

The Marine Corps pio­neered that approach this year by includ­ing sys­tem ener­gy per­for­mance para­me­ters in devel­op­ing a new sur­veil­lance sys­tem, he said, and the Army and the Air Force have a num­ber of fuel-sav­ing sys­tems in devel­op­ment, includ­ing tur­bines and a more effi­cient ground vehicle. 

Ground forces today use radios twice as much and com­put­er equip­ment three times as much as they did a decade ago, and there­fore car­ry rough­ly 20 pounds of bat­ter­ies for a three-day patrol in Afghanistan, Lynn said. 

“We are find­ing that clean-ener­gy tech­nol­o­gy is one way to light­en the load and give out troops more agili­ty,” he said. “In Jan­u­ary, the Iron Rangers of the 16th Infantry Bat­tal­ion deployed to Afghanistan with a suite of advanced pow­er and ener­gy capa­bil­i­ties, includ­ing bet­ter bat­ter­ies, solar-pow­ered recharg­ers, and propane fuel cells that can be refilled with fuel pur­chased locally.” 

Last week, he said, a one-megawatt micro­grid project start­ed up at Bagram Air­field in Afghanistan. 

Chains of “fuel-hog­ging gen­er­a­tors” at for­ward oper­at­ing bases are a major source of ener­gy waste, he said. 

“Rather than effi­cient­ly dis­trib­ut­ing right-sized gen­er­a­tors across a FOB, every­one often brings their own, result­ing in tremen­dous over­ca­pac­i­ty and waste,” he said. “The micro­grid project at Bagram will replace 22 exist­ing gen­er­a­tors with just four ener­gy-effi­cient ones, yield­ing a 30 per­cent sav­ings in fuel.” 

Per­ma­nent mil­i­tary instal­la­tions also offer oppor­tu­ni­ties for bet­ter ener­gy man­age­ment, Lynn said. 

Those instal­la­tions draw 99 per­cent of their pow­er from com­mer­cial pow­er grids, which are vul­ner­a­ble to dis­rup­tion, he said. “This vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty high­lights the impor­tance of the fuel cell back­up sys­tems we are installing with DOE’s help,” he added. 

The depart­ment spends $4 bil­lion a year buy­ing ener­gy for its facil­i­ties, Lynn not­ed. “Our strat­e­gy must low­er our ener­gy bills while improv­ing the ener­gy secu­ri­ty of our instal­la­tions,” he said. 

DOD’s work­force has already retro­fit­ted fuel-effi­cient light­ing, win­dows and heat­ing and cool­ing sys­tems in many exist­ing facil­i­ties, and is trans­form­ing rooftops, Lynn said. “In Hawaii, the 6,000 units of pri­va­tized Army fam­i­ly hous­ing fea­tur­ing rooftop solar pan­els make it the largest such project in the world,” he said, not­ing even-greater oppor­tu­ni­ties to gen­er­ate ener­gy at a low­er cost are on the horizon. 

DOD instal­la­tions are an ide­al prov­ing ground for next-gen­er­a­tion ener­gy tech­nolo­gies, Lynn said. 

He added depart­ment experts esti­mate those tech­nolo­gies could save 50 per­cent of cur­rent ener­gy costs in exist­ing build­ings, and 70 per­cent in new construction. 

DOD has spurred devel­op­ments over the decades in nuclear pow­er, the inter­net, micro­elec­tron­ics and high-per­for­mance com­put­ing, he said. 

“The depart­ment has a proven track record of lever­ag­ing our [research and devel­op­ment] funds and buy­ing pow­er to seed … new indus­tries,” Lynn said. 

Because DOD facil­i­ties draw pow­er from com­mer­cial grids, the deputy sec­re­tary not­ed, inno­va­tions achieved in-house can direct­ly trans­fer to the rest of the economy. 

Sys­tems now in test­ing range from the sim­ple — such as light­ing cal­i­brat­ed to aug­ment avail­able day­light and sense human pres­ence to run on and off — to a more com­plex ener­gy man­age­ment test at Great Lakes Naval Sta­tion, Ill., which deploys dis­trib­uted sen­sors to con­stant­ly opti­mize per­for­mance, Lynn said. 

Ener­gy indus­tries’ response to the DOD test-bed pro­gram has been dra­mat­ic, Lynn said. 

“Our lat­est solic­i­ta­tion gen­er­at­ed 600 pro­pos­als for tech­nol­o­gy demon­stra­tion projects,” he added. 

While change is always dif­fi­cult, Lynn said, DOD’s com­mit­ment to effi­cient ener­gy is firm. 

“With ener­gy sup­plies tight­en­ing and costs increas­ing, we have no choice but to make its effi­cient oper­a­tional use a core part of fight­ing and win­ning the nation’s wars,” he said. “This does not mean the ener­gy rev­o­lu­tion we are try­ing to fos­ter will come eas­i­ly, Lynn added, “but it does mean we have the winds of change at our back.” 

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

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