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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