Wednesday, December 28, 2011

2011: DOD Energy Year in Review

A hearty holiday hello to you, dear reader. Lacking any snow in Boston, I decided to head north for a short vacation in between Christmas and New Years and ended up, quite happily, in a winter-wonderland version of Montreal.

Dan Nolan and I talked a lot as this year unfolded about whether we were seeing signs of progress, or merely activity (like a dozen or so conferences) with little direct benefit to the war fighter or the nation.

You might ask: how would we propose to measure progress ... and would we know it if we saw it?

Well sure. In my mind, we'd be stronger or much stronger on the two vectors of concern identified in the 2008 Defense Science Board Task Force report on Energy:
  1. Fuel Surety - Access to ample operational fuel supplies around the world that can be delivered without interruption to wherever it is needed, and
  2. Installation Energy Security - CONUS and other permanent bases become be markedly less dependent on the electricity from their local grid providers
I haven't provided metrics yet (and won't in this post). But one thing we both agree on is that we make demonstrable gains in both of the above objectives when we reduce the amount of fuel or electricity required to accomplish the many and varied missions of the DOD.

That's energy efficiency, also called "the fifth fuel" as noted in this late-in-the-year post, as well as this one from earlier from Dan that gets quite detailed in talking about the Marines' energy strategy with the introduction of a new metric: GPMD, for gallons per Marine per day.

In 2011, the Army, Navy and Air Force all iterated their energy strategy and planning documents and as you know, there's plenty for us to report. But as you may have guessed by now, Dan's other middle name is Accountability. At the beginning of 2011, he reminded everyone of DOD's stated goals on a number of energy initiatives including:
  • Beginning in 2010 the Navy and Marine Corps will change the way contracts are awarded with Industry being held contractually accountable for meeting energy efficiency targets
  • By 2013 DOD will procure 7.5% of its electricity from renewables; 25% by 2025
  • By 2015, DOD will reduce energy demand by 30%
  • By 2015 the Navy will cut in half the amount of petroleum used in their commercial vehicle fleet through phased adoption of hybrid, electric, and flex fuel vehicles
  • By 2016 the Navy will sail the Great Green Fleet, a carrier strike group composed of nuclear ships, hybrid electric ships running biofuel, and aircraft flying on biofuel
  • By 2016, the Air Force wants to be buying 400 million gallons of fuel alternatives that are cost competitive with petroleum based fuel and no more carbon intensive in production
    than available conventional fuels
  • By 2020, the Navy will meet 50% of their total requirements with renewables and have 50% of their installations at Net Zero
  • By 2025, the Air Force must bring 1,000 MW of renewable capacity online to meet its goals.
And in so doing, he reminded me that it's hard (more like impossible) to find anyone monitoring progress on these goals. If they're purely aspirational and not intended to drive DOD's behavior and performance, then they/we should say so. If they are hard targets that must-be-met-else-heads-will-roll, that's something quite different. We hope it's the latter, but suspect it's the former.

You should read THIS ... Dan got somewhat detailed in describing a few of the obstacles blocking attainment of these objectives, and as of late December 2011, can anyone say we are on pace, or a little ahead, or a bit behind schedule on any/all of these?

At the blog, all we really want for Christmas is for DOD Energy to be treated like the true enterprise-caliber project senior leadership says it is. We expect metrics for measurement, regular updates on how we're faring, and ready carrots and sticks to incent the right behaviors and punish the wrong ones.

OK, that's enough or now. Have to brush off my translation book (app), not to mention my car. Until next time, Bonne année et bonne santé to you and yours. And remember the troops who are in harms way.  Andy Bochman

Photo credit: DVIDS at


Brian Smith said...

Great post. Check out the 2010 DoD Energy Report for information on progress against Executive and Congressional mandates. You can find it here:

It was released less than 6 months ago--a full six months after 2010 had ended. That is unacceptably late, and the full report should be compiled before the end of the new year, and released 15 to 30 days after the end of the final reporting period----just like any other official reporting documents are submitted in the private sector (i.e., quarterly statements, etc).


Matthew D. Brown said...

This is a great wrap up. Stand by for a big 2012. As a part of the Naval Postgraduate School's MBA program, a few classmates and I are exploring Solid Oxide Fuel Cell technology (Bloom Energy) as a viable alternative for naval installation power generation. This is a great tool which provides the mandated decentralization of energy source, reduction in carbon footprint, and cost savings. Our research is focused primarily on installation use, but under the right conditions could be applied to expeditionary needs. I look forward to any insights on the topic if anyone has them. My e-mail is All the best. FWFS, Matt