Earlier this year, we covered the release of Clean Edge’s Clean Energy Trends 2012 report, which included insights and forecasts for the U.S. clean tech and renewables industry. One of the predictions we highlighted was the momentum behind energy efficiency, and the potential for the U.S. Department of Defense – as one of the world’s largest land owners and energy consumers– to make a significant dent in global energy use by adopting energy efficiency measures. Recent remarks by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta support this projection.
In a May 2 speech, Panetta became one of the first high-ranking U.S. officials to definitively link environmental, energy and security issues: “In the 21st century, reality is that there are environmental threats that constitute threats to our national security.” To help meet these challenges and ensure our nation’s energy and national security, the Defense Department will need to be more efficient, innovative and invest in the technologies of the future, Panetta said.
Panetta positioned the Pentagon as being poised to take a leading role in transforming the way the United States uses energy. While Panetta did not offer any new initiatives or policies, he did reinforce the billions of dollars the department is investing in:
- More efficient aircraft and aircraft engines
- Hybrid electric drives for ships
- Improved generators and micro-grids for combat bases
- Combat vehicle energy efficiency programs
- Military installations to test next-generation energy technology
He also referenced the Army, Navy and Air Force’s plan to add three gigawatts of renewable energy to military installations in the coming years – one of the largest commitments to clean energy in the nation’s history. Together, these initiatives are making “the country more secure and protecting our natural resources,” Panetta said.
In addition to climate change, he cited the need for the Defense Department to work to ensure that the country’s electric grid is protected from cyber-attack and that measures are in place to maintain power in the event such an attack or other significant interruption occurs.
Clearly, the commitment and necessary investments are in place for the U.S. military to be a leader and an innovator in energy efficiency and energy security. We’ll be watching to see if these investments bear fruit and, perhaps more importantly, if others in the public sector follow suit.