Excellent discussion of energy security and DOD’s struggle to define it in a Greenwire article by Annie Snider. Ms Snider spoke with everyone who is anybody in the Defense energy market (and some nobodies) in a two part piece. From the half dozen definitions for energy security proffered in frustration by Richard Kidd, DASA, Energy and Sustainability (previous post) to the discussion of the complexity in determining mission criticality on installations provided by Coby Jones, one of the best energy program coordinators in the Army, the article highlights the challenges inherent in such a seemingly simple functional area, energy.
For Dr. Dorothy Robyn, Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Installations and Environment, it is all about the triple bottom-line: energy efficiency, expand renewable energy and improve power security. For thinktankers like the Heritage Foundation’s Jack Spencer it is about operational capacity, while for ASD, Homeland Defense Paul Stockton it about resilience in the face of attacks on the national grid. For industry, the result is confusion about what is driving the market: is it energy security or the various mandates?
The one bright star in this gloomy picture is the work on smart grids. Without a smarter grid, there can be no real energy security. Efforts from SPIDERS to microgrid work at Camp Sabalu-Harrison (thanks to my FB friend, S. Burke for this one) reflect the uniformed and civilian sides of the Services coming together in common cause. The smart, microgrid effort is not being driven by mandates, but by the recognition that “assured access” to energy comes from understanding distribution priorities can change in seconds and commanders must be able to react to those changes.
Regardless of the definition of energy security, until DOD can value it, industry does not know how to react. Smart, microgrids are pure energy security value; they may also serve to make energy use more efficient, but that is really a bonus effect. If DOD were willing to pay a 3% premium on power generated inside their gates, guns and guards, that would be market signal. Anything done in the way of energy efficiency can be valued as energy security because the safest, cleanest, cheapest and most secure electron is the one you do not use.
The follow on article to this one looks at renewable energy at military bases. Hurry, Annie, we can’t wait! Dan Nolan