Antibiotics, jet travel, the Internet and GPS. Those are just a few of things that were made possible by U.S. military investments that paved the way for mainstream commercial applications benefiting millions of Americans.
Today, the same process is going on with the military and renewable energy. Not only is this “plus” for the American economy significant, but it also keeps American serving in combat safer, since the transport lines required for old/conventional energy are a prime target for enemy attacks and a major source of U.S. troop deaths.
In 2007, there was one casualty per every 24 fuel convoys in Afghanistan and one casualty for every 39 fuel convoys in Iraq.
The new report shows how the Department of Defense (DoD) has served as an incubator for some of our most important technologies and is demonstrating that a concerted national effort can lead to significant breakthroughs in clean energy and even greater fuel economy for transportation, as opposed to investing in cost-ineffective technology (e.g., nuclear) or illusory technology (e.g., “clean coal”).
A new report – “Department of Defense: Renewable Energy & Tech Transfer” — prepared for the nonprofit and nonpartisan Civil Society Institute (CSI) think tank finds:
* The Department of Defense has often served as a launching pad for many technologies that have advanced civil society development. These have included societal mainstays such as antibiotics, jet travel, the Internet and GPS.
* The DoD is in a unique position to have the breadth and depth necessary to acquire emerging technologies from the civilian sector, further research and development and utilize them in real world settings. Through this process DoD channels help establish an economy of scale robust enough that once technology transfers back into the civilian sector and commercialization takes root the starting price point for civilian purchases is approachable. Presently, the DoD is undergoing this process with renewable energy technologies, in both domestic and overseas operations and the benefits to the civilian sector are forthcoming.
* The current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, however, have highlighted the security vulnerability and high cost point for the US in acquiring the necessary amount of energy to meet operational requirements at forward operation bases (FOBs). The total energy budget for the DoD (inclusive of domestic and international installations and operations) ebbs and flows around $20 billion. Every $10 increase in price per barrel (ppb) on the world market equates to an additional annual DoD energy cost of $1.3 billion.
* Though the monetary budget for energy use within the DoD fluctuates around $20 billion, this does not account for the ‘fully burdened cost’ of fuel. The ‘fully burdened cost’ increases when human capital in terms of man-hours, casualties and fatalities to secure various LOCs is considered. Most of what travels along combat theater LOCs is fuel and water. Shipments are, on average, 50 percent fuel, 20 percent bottled water and 30 percent other necessary items, including munitions. Securing these LOCs costs service members lives at a rate of one casualty per every 24 fuel convoys in Afghanistan and one casualty for every 39 fuel convoys in Iraq, according to a report done by the Army Environmental Policy Institute (AEPI) in Fiscal Year 2007.
* Focus within the DoD has been placed on feasibly implementing various renewable energy technologies at FOBs to reduce this ‘fully burdened cost’. The US Marine Corps has established an experimental FOB in Afghanistan to actually field test various renewable energy technologies. These emerging technologies and their implementation have been promising so far:
> The ReGenerator is a multi-fuel capable generator that can generate up to 1,200W of integrated Solar, 2,400W of external solar and 1,200W of wind along with managing fossil fuel generators. It can also store an additional 25.9 kWh in AGM batteries that can support a charge from 120 or 240 VAC generator or grid connection. The integrated solar panels are adapted to harsh climatic conditions and have been field-tested.
> Another emerging technology is the Oshkosh HEMTT-A3 that is a tactical hybrid truck that utilizes electricity generated from on-board diesel-electric generators to power each of the four axles. Functionality is not lost either – it is capable of hauling 13 tons of cargo while cruising at 65 miles per hour.
> Perhaps most intriguing is the Arroyo 500 — is an air to water generator where moisture is captured from the air and concentrated by a high-temperature desiccant wheel, collected and purified into potable water.
August 29, 2011 from the Civil Society Institute
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