Energy & Capital has an interesting piece on how the US military is and will adjust to a world where traditional energy sources are no longer cheap commodities that can be taken for granted.  Instead, the largest energy consumer in the world has to rethink its military strategy to incorporate energy (and new sources of energy) into its planning equations. And how the US military goes, the rest of the nation will ultimately follow.

Here is a re-post of the article.

Energy in 2030

Energy and Capital’s Weekend Edition

Saturday, October 15th, 2011

When in doubt, I always turn to the military for long-term guidance.

They plan ahead, fund new technologies, and adopt them earliest…

GPS, digital cameras, and a little thing called the Internet all came from the military.

So whenever the energy future looks uncertain (as it does now with oil low in its range, massive albeit contentious natural gas finds, and renewables, quite frankly, failing to launch), I look to see how the uber-planners in defense are going to play it.

A good launchpad is this quote from Sharon Burke, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Operational Energy, which came after it announced a new Operational Energy Strategy in June:

Before, it was assumed energy would be where you needed when you needed it… We hadn’t defined energy innovation as important to military capability. The new strategy is to say that energy is a strategic good that enables your military force.

The new plan is broken down into three parts:

  1. More fight, less fuel – Using less fuel to power the same tanks, jets, and ships with efficient technologies like hybrid and electric engines.
  2. More options, less risk – Solar to power desert bases instead of trucked-in diesel; biofuels to power jets instead of petroleum.
  3. More capability, less cost – Building energy security into the future force by factoring it into all military long-term planning.

Shortly after the plan was announced, Gen. Patraeus sent this memo ordering the immediate conservation of fuel:

“Operational energy” is the lifeblood of our warfighting capabilities and a key enabler of Coalition operations in Afghanistan. Commanders will make energy-informed, risk-based decisions on aviation operations, vehicle operations, power and water generation…

Commanders will push for rapid technology transition of new fuel savings methods to the field, where appropriate, and will pursue existing, proven alternative energy options that reduce the use and transport of fuel.

Microcosm of Our Energy Problem

The Department of Defense uses more oil than any other entity on earth: as much as $18 billion worth per year, plus another $2 billion for electricity.

Half of the American casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan occur while guarding fuel convoys. One out of every 24 fuel convoys has led to the death of a soldier. There are upwards of 6,000 fuel convoys per year.

Gasoline and diesel can cost as much as $400 per gallon to deliver to the battlefield.

It’s a perfect microcosm of the greater United States: An egregious amount of taxpayer dollars spent on securing and transporting an increasingly outdated fuel supply that only results in further loss and vulnerability.

As always, the military is adopting a plan that will soon be followed by the entire nation.


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1 Comment on US Energy Strategy For 2030

  1. Elroy Jetson says:

    Fascinating. One might add that the automobile too, owes its early development to the military. In France, Nicholas Cugnot’s steam-powered tricycle tractor was funded by the military (until a nobleman realized the project might expose the identity of his lover) and Herr Porsche got into the game very early on with a hybrid gasoline/electric all-wheel drive military truck about 1910 (and that was 10 years after his original Lohner Porsche hybrid automobile). Almost odd that Porsche today doesn’t mention the early hybrids when promoting their new models.