Monday, January 19, 2009

Real DOD Energy Progress ... or Beating Heads Against Walls?

I love breakthroughs as much as anyone, be they technology or policy based. But while I enjoy exciting evidence of progress, I place an even higher value on realism/pragmatism so we don't fool ourselves. And this is where I often find myself on this blog: shuttling back and forth between enthusiasm (when a bold move is made like last week's announcement of 4,000 electric cars for Army bases) and concern (when the Air Force seems to place all its hopes in the synth fuel basket) to fear, when DOD leaders continue to refuse to acknowledge the most basic new energy concepts: FBCF and EEKPP.

This post is about all three: enthusiam, concern and fear. And as usual, former IEA official Dr. Sohbet Karbuz does a better job of bringing it all together than I do. Like this, from his recent piece in National Defense Magazine:
... the Pentagon does not have a coherent and viable long-term strategy on energy. Its efforts on energy concentrate on three issues: supply oriented (alternative and renewable fuels and nuclear); demand oriented (energy efficiency technology options such as turbine and engine technologies, material and aerodynamic design etc); and cross cutting technologies (conversion of waste to energy). Efficient use and conservation of energy deserves much more emphasis. The Air Force’s efforts to increase the use of flight simulators, modifications to flight routes, efficient cargo loading, more en route fuel stops instead of in-flight refueling, and culture change constitute good examples. Similar efforts should be adopted by the other services.
It's not too long and I recommend reading it all if you get a chance.  BTW, on the eve of the inauguration of President Barack Obama, I found a great image of the Jefferson Memorial. Lincoln's been getting a lot of visibility lately, and for very good reason. But I'm also counting on thinkers and visionaries in the mode of Jefferson to help guide us as we seek exits from the tremendous holes we've dug for ourselves, in energy and many other areas. He seems full of hope and potential; now let's see what Obama can do. With the rest of us helping, of course. With the rest of us helping.

Photo by Trey Ratcliff

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