I was pleased to hear you talk about the importance of consolidating energy issues at the DOD and the position that was established in the Defense Authorization Act to do this. And I hear you plan to fulfill the position quickly. I look forward to working with you in any way possible, as in many ways the military is meeting in this cause of energy independence. The men and women in uniform know more than almost any Americans the price of having to defend oil supplies lines and our dependence on regimes that don't particularly like us. So I commend you for this effort and again look forward to working with you.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Last month Air Force Secretary Donnelly ... signed an Air Force energy program policy memorandum establishing the goals of certifying the entire Air Force fleet to use a synthetic fuel blend by the year 2011, and to require 50 percent of the Air Force's domestic aviation fuel requirement be an alternative fuel blend by the year 2016.... do you think that the Air Force's energy initiative regarding synthetic and alternative fuels is something that should be considered for department-wide implementation?
Yes ... one of the transition papers that was prepared for my successor had to do with a consolidation of oversight within the Department of Defense on energy-related issues that would enable it. We have many individual programs in the Department of Defense oriented toward energy conservation and toward alternative fuels, but there is no one place where it all comes together for oversight or [for the] sharing of ideas or the sharing of technologies and so on.
I think that, if I'm not mistaken, there is a position provided for in the department at a fairly senior level to do this. And it would be my intention to fill that position, to accomplish what you just suggested, but with a broader mandate than that.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
China ... faces major energy shortages over the long-term that could be a source of conflict. For example, China imported less than two million barrels of oil per day (bbl/d) in 2002, but that figure is projected to soar to between 9.5 and 15 million bbl/d by 2025. Today, China is the world’s second largest consumer and third largest importer of petroleum, bringing in over 40 percent of the oil required to meet domestic demand. Although the Chinese are taking steps to address their growing dependence on oil, to include the development of oil pipelines from Central Asia and Russia and the increase of natural gas imports, these will not eliminate China’s heavy dependence on oil in the foreseeable future.So that's the demand side. Below, it appears the US has the upper hand on supply side factors ... at least at first:
China’s growing oil and natural gas dependence could be a prescription for friction between Washington and Beijing. Thanks to its military and political alliances, the United States maintains a formidable presence in key petroleum-producing regions. The United States is capable of intervening when necessary to address threats to its energy supplies; the US fleet controls the key ocean transit routes. China possesses neither advantage. However, over time China may use its expanded military capability to deny the United States secure access to its energy supplies, thereby placing both countries’ economic security at risk. Depending upon what form these actions might take (e.g., challenging the US fleet for sea control from the Gulf to East Asia or, failing that, using its military power—its submarine fleet and extended range missiles, for example—to create a comparable threat to US offshore oil supplies or transport of same), the United States might be hard-pressed to field effective countermeasures.Just another in the long laundry list of reasons why DOD needs to move on energy as swiftly as possible right now ... despite the faultering economy, despite the current low price of oil, despite the present relatively good state of relations with China. It's time to prepare for the inevitable ... and by thorough preparation, tilt the odds greatly in our favor.
Monday, January 26, 2009
Using techniques such flying more direct routes to their destinations to taxing aircraft on fewer engines or starting engines at later times before takeoff and using simulators far more often, the service has managed to save millions of dollars in energy costs, according to Kevin Billings, acting assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations, logistics and environment. “We had a 3-percent reduction in fuel use last year while flying expanded missions,” said Billings during a Jan. 14 interview at the Pentagon. Service officials achieved this by expanding direct routing of aircraft, reducing the weight of aircraft, using simulators and updating maintenance procedures.
The service is ... working with the State Department to expedite diplomatic clearances for its aircraft. This would allow the jets to fly much more direct and efficient routes through other nations’ airspace.
... and the FAA:
[USAF] is asking the Federal Aviation Administration to let its planes to descend on direct glide paths during landing instead of gradually “stepping down,” said the assistant secretary. This will let the Air Force take advantage of new Global Positioning System-based navigation tools that allow more efficient flight patterns while maintaining safety, according to Billings.
This is all good stuff and we need to see more of it. The Air Force has by far the largest energy burden of the 4 services, and uses the vast majority of the fuel. Stay tuned for more ...
Photo: GPS Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) by Wikimedia Commons
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Amid the $825 billion that the U.S. Congress proposes to spend to resuscitate the U.S. economy, there’s a $350 million sliver in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for the U.S. military to conduct research into renewable energy .... The proposed legislation does not list specific projects on which the money is to be spent. Rather, “it looks like it is seed money for better ideas,” defense budget analyst Christopher Hellman said.
the centerpiece of Monday’s anticipated announcement is Mr. Obama’s directive to the Environmental Protection Agency to begin work immediately on granting California a waiver, under the Clean Air Act, which allows the state, a longtime leader in air quality matters, to set standards for automobile emissions stricter than the national rules.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
- Reduced R&D costs and risks
- Faster/easier path to market for wave and near shore-wind tech co's
- National training site for renewable energy engineers and technicians
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
... told a packed auditorium at the Surface Navy Association's annual symposium [last week] that he has been studying the operating costs of the Navy's latest ships, and the prospect of high fuel and operating costs decades from now "scares the heck out of me." The world is running out of oil, he said. "If we don't get serious about energy, we're delivering a terrible future to our children." To stave that off, the Navy needs to put its maximum effort toward making its ships as efficient as possible, Roughead said. "It's not just going to be trailing another shaft or turning off lights in more spaces."On the later, I'd recommend a recent piece by National Defense Magazine President Larry Farrell called "The Future Has Arrived, Sooner than Expected", in which he cites a report by the fiscal watchdog Peter G. Peterson Foundation:
[the report] paints a frightening outlook. It notes that the United States only balanced its budget six times in the last 50 years. Further, with the retirement of the baby boomers, the nation’s finances will soon run aground on the shoals of unfunded liabilities. If revenues continue at 18.3 percent of GDP, by 2027 they will not even cover net interest on the debt, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. The government will be forced to borrow for everything else — education, defense, homeland security and other essential programs.
Monday, January 19, 2009
... 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.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
The council currently includes the secretaries of state and defense, the director of national intelligence, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the national security adviser and the president and vice president. "I think the way to think about it is that those individual secretaries and DNI will have important jobs and a tremendous amount of power," Mr. Locher told The Washington Times. "We need something more, though. We need that ability to integrate. We need a manager. Gen. Jones will have to play a more important role than national security advisers have in the past."As blogged earlier here, Jones brings a heck of a lot more interest in and understanding of energy issues than any of his predecessors. Were he given more power as NSM, he'd likely be able to bring more responsiveness to energy and other national security issues. Thing is, though, the most important energy decisions need to be made now, proactively, before we're in the crisis situations that are just ahead of us.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Eccles cited the Navy's new Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) as a hypothetical example of how fuel economy could be weighed against capability in the development process. The fleet of 55 LCSs the Navy plans "will drink a lot more fuel per ton" than other surface ships, Eccles said. "If you want something that's going to do 45 or more knots ... that comes at some fuel costs .... I ask myself, for the combat capability, is that a price we ought to be paying?"
[Eccles said] that the cost of that fuel consumption should not just be considered as just the fuel itself, but also the cost of getting [it] to the fleet.Too bad that the LCS' high level of fuel consumption is already baked in. But very glad to hear these sentiments described so bluntly. Now all the Navy has to do is take the last few steps, as required by CJCSI 3170.01 and DoDI 5000.02, and strongly recommended by two DSB Energy Task Forces, is to use the right words. Someday, with luck, we'll all be speaking the same language and making major energy security strides in the US Navy and across the DOD.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Monday, January 12, 2009
- Cars go 25 MPH which is fine for most bases
- Recharge at standard 3 prong, 110 V outlets
- Army also investigating higher speed electric vehicles for longer distance and off base use
- May be able to replace a total of 28,000 Army vehicles
- Large savings on along every vector: lease costs of vehicles, maintenance and fuel. Click here for electric vs. gas powered GSA fleet comparison
Sunday, January 11, 2009
The key finding was that warfighting, logistics and monetary benefits occur when weapons systems are made more fuel-efficient, but those benefits are not valued or emphasized in the requirements and acquisition processes. This is because DoD’s business processes do not explicitly, routinely or systematically consider either the energy problem or opportunities to address it. The  report found that the requirements process does not require energy efficiency in deployed systems, the acquisition process does not value it, the procurement process does not recognize it, and the Planning, Programming, Budgeting, and Execution System (PPBES) process does not provide it visibility when considering investment decisions.Ouch, that hurts. But there's good reason to believe 2009 is finally going to usher in some big changes. In fact, you'll see some of them very soon. Stay tuned.
Thursday, January 8, 2009
What you should also know is that several new co's, including Massachusetts-based Konarka, are perfecting thin-film solar technology to the point where it can be built into fabrics ... like tents. The FOB applications are many, and include not just tents, but essentially any structure, parked vehicle or space that lends itself to being partially or fully covered.
With tents that retain 50% more energy, with micro-grid and energy management systems that save 20-25%, and with tents and other surfaces creating new solar sources of FOB energy, it's plain to see that Army field units, in deserts anyway, may not need fuel convoys much longer. Food and ammo, yes. Fuel, no.
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Here's the salient fact about the conflict between Russia and Ukraine over gas supplies: Russia's strongman is wielding the energy club to undermine the pro-Western government in Kiev and scare the European Union into submission. The strategic stakes are as great as in Georgia last summer.
Pointing at Westerners' dependence on the Islamic countries' oil and energy resources, [Iranian leaders] called for cutting the export of crude oil to the Zionist regime's supporters the world over.That's us. I'm not saying the somewhat US-aligned GCC countries are going to immediately fall in line with Iranian guidance, but I am saying that if they did, we'd be a bit like Ukraine presently caught in the economic cross hairs of Russia's energy weapon. Food for thought when considering how much urgency DOD and the US as a whole needs to place on energy efficiency and new energy capabilities.
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Five dollars to the first person who can find a new metaphor to replace “the low hanging fruit.” Until such time, however, it remains an apt visual to describe the easy first-steps we must all take in our shared mission of reducing our energy consumption.
As you and I sit back down at our desks this morning, our legislators--rookies and veterans--return from their districts to begin the long and difficult task of crafting an economic recovery program with President elect Obama.
Regardless of how you feel about his overall politics, most people involved in energy issues believe that he is the right man at the right time for our country. He appears to share our belief that energy issues present important hurdles and opportunities for our nation.
In New Energy for America he and Joe Biden state, “We must act quickly and we must act boldly to transform our entire economy—from our cars and our fuels to our factories and our buildings.” More specifically, he seems to understand the critical importance of decreasing energy demand as the necessary first step to changing our energy paradigm. In his December 6, 2008, radio address he added, “First, we will launch a massive effort to make public buildings more energy efficient. Our government now pays the highest energy bill in the world. We need to change that. We need to upgrade our federal buildings by replacing old heating systems and installing efficient light bulbs.”
Upgrading HVAC, light bulbs and insulation isn’t sexy, but these are required actions before any renewable energy projects are undertaken. It perpetuates wasteful DoD spending policies to build a 5 MW solar array for an installation, when, if only demand had been scaled initially, a 3 MW solar array would have sufficed.
According to Robin West, founder and CEO of PFC Energy, there is no lower hanging fruit than these demand-side initiatives. They provide the highest return on investment with minimal capital outlay while simultaneously affecting employee conservation attitudes.
President elect Obama has repeated talked about improving the energy efficiency of all buildings in the federal inventory. This represents over 400,000 buildings and more than three billion square feet of office space. The time is now for Congress and the President to commit to retrofitting all appropriate federal office buildings with closed cell spray polyurethane foam (CCSPF) insulation in their roofs, attics or ceilings. This initiative would require an appropriation of approximately $4 billion in the economic recovery package. But it would improve building efficiency by 25% to 33% and the process could create as many as 55,000 skilled jobs in green technology companies.
Additionally, a project of such a grand scale would speed the process of making insulation retrofits more affordable for working Americans. As energy prices fluctuate rapidly these days, the deleterious affects of unpredictable utility bills hits America’s poorest families hardest. Weatherization programs have been in effect through the Federal Energy Management Program for years but these programs would be improved and accelerated by a nationwide push to retrofit all federal buildings with CCSPF.
We can make a case for improved energy efficiency based on any number of important issues: national security, foreign policy, defense spending, and American exceptionalism. But the most important arguments today stem from jobs creation, federal spending and economic recovery.
The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few to pick this low hanging fruit. With a little help from our friends in Washington, we can find all the workers we need to attend to what may be our country’s most important crop.
Monday, January 5, 2009
Sunday, January 4, 2009
Many of us have been advising federal procurement managers, Members of Congress and the Obama Transition Team staff to not only accelerate the federal procurement pipeline now, but to add to it for the next three years and leverage procurements regionally with state and local governments. Such an action could create a rather large and sustained market pull for the clean energy industries.
This multi-year sustained government procurement effort would be multi-technology including materials, energy systems, vehicle fleets and green power purchases. Not only would this sustain the clean energy industries, it would keep them vibrant all across the United States. And of course, US taxpayers pay the energy bills for buildings and facilities that can last a century — virtually every improvement in buildings, vehicles or energy inputs — will reduce taxpayer supports of the energy costs for these government uses.
We don't want this short term economic chaos to undermine the survival of the breadth of the clean energy industries across the U.S., undermine goals to cut energy imports and emissions and undermine the initiative by our new President to fundamentally shift our economy to green jobs.
This may sound like a bit more crutch than some would like, but it also sounds like a win-win to me, as the government component recedes, percentage-wise, once the economy comes back to life. The full article is here and Sklar's Stella Group company site is here.