Thursday, November 6, 2008

DOD's Oil Clock is Ticking

I'm not exagerating when I tell you Dr. Sohbet Karbuz's "Can the U.S. military move to renewable fuels?" in last month's Bulletin of Atomic Scientists is perhaps the best, most consice summation of the militay's fuel concerns in 2008. Informed by a career of research and monitoring of global energy issues for the International Energy Agency (IEA), Karbuz writes from a consistently constructive point of view, and has been paying particular attention to the DOD for years. Compared with me, he's a true expert, and yet my own observations are almost completely in sync with his.

From speaking with senior leadership, and watching where they've put the bulk of their recent energy efforts, it seems DOD is more interested in boasting about its big electricity projects, like a very large solar installation at Nellis AFB, or wind turbines a Guantanemo, than in treating the fuel issue like the institutional life and death issue that it is.

Karbuz himself cannot help but draw discouraging conclusions from the current state of DOD energy activities which seem focused on the lesser of its great challenges:
It is a pity that most of the Pentagon's efforts are concentrated on generating electricity, which accounts for less than 12 percent of military energy consumption, and not on oil, which accounts for more than 75 percent.
Hopefully with the advent of the fully burdened cost of fuel (FBCF) initiative in the 2009 NDAA, we'll start to see a change. But it's got to come fast, to an institution that's often averse to change. It will be decades before the the systems designed today are fielded. Do you the next planes and ships are being designed with fuel efficiency or new fuels in mind?

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