Talking Energy Security

Jessyca SheehanJessyca Sheehan is an associate director in APCO’s Sacramento office and a member of APCO’s energy & clean tech practice.

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.

Posted on May 15, 2012 By Jessyca Sheehan
Categories  Energy & Clean Tech and tagged , , , , , , , ,
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  1. Chuck Karish
    Posted May 16, 2012 at 6:31 am | Permalink


    One thing Panetta didn’t mention in his speech is the immediate practical value to the military of alternative energy sources. I read an article last summer about use of solar photoelectric panels at an isolated forward base in Afghanistan, which substituted for fossil fuel that otherwise would have had to be delivered across a difficult supply chain.

    Two other relevant recent news items:

    The leaders of the House Armed Services Committee say they’ll block spending for green fuels in next year’s defense budget.

    Conservative plans for a propaganda offensive against the idea of wind energy:


    • Jessyca Sheehan
      Posted May 16, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

      Re: the House vote, this is exactly why we are seeing the Pentagon and others move toward energy efficiency measures vs. alternative and renewable energy sources. It’s the low hanging fruit with the most immediate, tangible impact – namely, cost savings. Makes it an easier sale during slow economic times and amidst significant budget deficits.”

One Trackback

  1. By Pentagon Holding Firm to Clean Energy Plans on July 16, 2012 at 11:37 am

    [...] this year, we wrote about the Pentagon’s efforts to green its operations. With budget cuts for the Department of Defense projected in the trillions, however, many [...]

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