Monday, March 15, 2010

Lovins on DOD Energy Opportunities in 2010

Rocky Mountain Institute founder Amory Lovins has been in this long game longer than anyone, and much of the credit for DOD's current momentum on energy can be traced directly to his decades-long leadership and perseverance. So it's great news that NDU's Joint Force Quarterly journal has just published his current assessment and recommendations for the Department's energy strategy. (Note: because it's so timely and topical, you'll find it front and center (actually, top and right) on the DOD Energy Blog for the rest of this year.)

Biggest points of emphasis in this piece are deep drill-downs on the two new new strategic vectors (or capabilities) Lovins has been championing for some time time: endurance and resilience. The business case for the first begins early in the article:
Nobody knows how much oil is in the ground: governments, which often do not know or will not transparently reveal what they have, hold about 94 percent of reserves. But DOD, like the United States, has three compelling reasons to get off oil regardless: security, climate, and cost.... DOD’s unnecessarily inefficient use of oil makes it move huge quantities of fuel from purchase to use, imposing high costs in blood, treasure, and combat effectiveness.
Endurance gets you platforms less dependent on oil logistics, freeing soldiers up for offense vs. the defense that massive fuel convoys demand. Greater weighting of resilience, on the other hand, would liberate DOD bases from their current dangerous over-dependence on commercial power in CONUS and overseas. Once broadly implemented via renewables and the smart and micro-grids, it would also reduce our little-discussed vulnerability to trees and rodents:
The US electrical grid ... is very capital-intensive, complex, technologically unforgiving, usually reliable, but inherently brittle. It is responsible for 98–99 percent of U.S. power failures, and occasionally blacking out large areas within seconds—because the grid requires exact synchrony across subcontinental areas and relies on components taking years to build in just a few factories or one (often abroad), and can be interrupted by a lightning bolt, rifle bullet,malicious computer program, untrimmed branch, or errant squirrel.
The title is "DOD's Energy Challenge as Strategic Opportunity" and I highly recommend you read the whole thing here.

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