Lynn: Defense-Energy Team Leads National Effort

WASHINGTON, April 26, 2011 — A part­ner­ship the Defense and Ener­gy depart­ments formed last year to con­serve ener­gy in the mil­i­tary is the per­fect union to lead the nation in con­ser­va­tion, Deputy Defense Sec­re­tary William J. Lynn III said at the White House Ener­gy Secu­ri­ty Forum today.

“The key to this part­ner­ship is focus­ing [the Ener­gy Department’s] unique knowl­edge on meet­ing defense require­ments,” Lynn said. “By tak­ing tech­nolo­gies from labs to the bat­tle­field, the Depart­ment of Ener­gy can enroll its sci­en­tif­ic inge­nu­ity in the ser­vice of our nation’s most impor­tant nation­al mis­sion: nation­al secu­ri­ty.”

Addi­tion­al­ly, Lynn said, the depart­ments’ col­lab­o­ra­tion can improve the oper­a­tional effec­tive­ness of the armed forces and serve as a cat­a­lyst for the civil­ian world. “By serv­ing as a sophis­ti­cat­ed first user and ear­ly cus­tomer for inno­v­a­tive ener­gy tech­nolo­gies,” he said, “the mil­i­tary can jump-start their broad­er com­mer­cial adop­tion, just as we have done with jet engines, high-per­for­mance com­put­ing and the Inter­net.”

Deputy Ener­gy Sec­re­tary Daniel B. Pone­man agreed.

“Through our nation­al lab­o­ra­to­ry sys­tem, the [Ener­gy] depart­ment brings tremen­dous sci­en­tif­ic exper­tise to bear across a whole port­fo­lio of nation­al ener­gy and sci­en­tif­ic pri­or­i­ties,” he said. “Cou­pled with the scale of the Defense Department’s oper­a­tions and its poten­tial to act as a test bed for inno­v­a­tive tech­nolo­gies, this part­ner­ship is a cru­cial vehi­cle to strength­en our nation­al secu­ri­ty and to build a clean ener­gy econ­o­my for Amer­i­ca.”

Forum speak­ers not­ed the impor­tance Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma has placed on ener­gy con­ser­va­tion, but added that the issue goes back at least as far as the admin­is­tra­tion of Pres­i­dent Richard M. Nixon, who acknowl­edged that Amer­i­can reliance on for­eign oil rais­es nation­al secu­ri­ty risks. NATO’s ongo­ing mil­i­tary oper­a­tions in Libya and the spike of oil prices due to polit­i­cal unrest in the Mid­dle East is just the lat­est exam­ple of the prob­lem, Pone­man said.

Under the depart­ments’ agree­ment, a com­mit­tee of Defense and Ener­gy lead­ers will steer invest­ments into con­ser­va­tion-relat­ed tech­nolo­gies for U.S.-based instal­la­tions and bat­tle­field oper­a­tions, Lynn said. Dorothy Robyn, deputy under­sec­re­tary of defense for instal­la­tions and envi­ron­ment, and Sharon E. Burke, assis­tant sec­re­tary of defense for oper­a­tional ener­gy plans and pro­grams, are lead­ing those efforts and took part in the forum.

The Defense Depart­ment is a world leader in ener­gy con­sump­tion, Lynn said, not­ing that it accounts for 80 per­cent of U.S. fed­er­al ener­gy use and con­sumes more ener­gy than is used by two-thirds of all the nations on Earth. With annu­al ener­gy bills reach­ing into the tens of bil­lions of dol­lars, con­ser­va­tion could pro­duce sig­nif­i­cant sav­ings, he said. “Every­thing we do, every mis­sion we per­form requires sig­nif­i­cant amounts of ener­gy,” Lynn said.

Ener­gy depen­dence has grown in the mil­i­tary, bur­den­ing bud­gets, logis­tics and indi­vid­ual ser­vice mem­bers. More than 70 per­cent of con­voys in Afghanistan are used to trans­port fuel or water and are easy tar­gets for insur­gents’ road­side bombs, Lynn said. More than 3,000 U.S. troops and con­trac­tors have been killed or wound­ed pro­tect­ing them, he said.

Ground forces’ increased use of elec­tron­ics has dou­bled their use of bat­ter­ies in recent years, Lynn said, so that today’s sol­diers typ­i­cal­ly car­ry 18 pounds of bat­ter­ies on a 72-hour foot patrol in Afghanistan.

But although the Defense Depart­ment con­sumes much ener­gy, it also is a leader in con­ser­va­tion, Lynn said, as not­ed last year by the Pew Char­i­ta­ble Trusts think tank.

The depart­ment is build­ing ener­gy per­for­mance para­me­ters into weapons sys­tems require­ments, includ­ing the cost of fuel for oper­a­tions, Lynn said. With­in the ser­vices, he added, the Navy is lead­ing the way with more effi­cient propul­sion tech­nolo­gies, includ­ing hybrid dri­ves, and alter­na­tive ener­gies that use bio­fu­els.

The Marine Corps last fall deployed to Afghanistan’s Hel­mand province with flex­i­ble solar pan­els devel­oped at the Sol­dier Sys­tems Cen­ter in Nat­ick, Mass., which allowed the Marines to run two patrol bases com­plete­ly on solar pow­er and cut diesel fuel con­sump­tion at a third base by more than 90 per­cent, Lynn said.

“New ener­gy tech­nol­o­gy makes our warfight­ers more agile, allow­ing them to focus on the mis­sion rather than their logis­tics chain,” he said.

At Twen­ty­nine Palms Marine Corps Base, Calif., Marines are demon­strat­ing new micro­grid tech­nol­o­gy, a sys­tem of self-gen­er­at­ed elec­tric­i­ty and intel­li­gent con­trols that can be oper­at­ed inde­pen­dent­ly of the com­mer­cial pow­er grid that mil­i­tary bases rely on, Lynn said.

Under its part­ner­ship with the Ener­gy Depart­ment, DOD can con­tin­ue with such inno­va­tions and do more, Lynn and Pone­man said. Under the agree­ment, DOE will fund inno­v­a­tive projects, and pro­vide advi­sors to com­bat­ant com­mands to share infor­ma­tion and train­ing, Pone­man said.

Already, DOE audi­tors have found $15 mil­lion in sav­ings through ener­gy con­ser­va­tion at some of DOD’s 307,000 build­ings, he added.

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

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