Military Spending Could Give Big Boost to Renewable Energy

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By Alexis Arthur, an energy policy associate at the Institute of the Americas, a think tank on Western Hemisphere Affairs based in La Jolla, Calif. Originally published at OilPrice

Last month, an estimated 1,700 NATO troops undertook a military exercise to test a range of renewable and energy efficiency technologies that will hopefully reduce NATO’s reliance on fossil fuels. With thousands of soldiers killed or injured in attacks on fuel convoys across conflict zones, reducing the military’s vulnerability is critical.

However, it is not just military operations but also humanitarian assistance efforts that stand to gain from greater innovation in renewable deployment and efficiency in complex and dangerous situations.

Delivering fuel to combat zones is both risky and expensive. Attacks on fuel convoys in places like Iraq and Afghanistan are all too common. More than 3,000 U.S. soldiers have been killed or injured in Afghanistan since September 11, 2001 due to attacks on fuel convoys.

Fuel makes up around half of all goods transported by convoy. And there are few alternatives. Airdrops are one option but they are expensive and arguably wasteful. Up to seven gallons of fuel are required for every gallon delivered to a remote base and drops are not always well targeted.

These challenges are shared by armed forces across the globe. But programs for energy efficiency and renewable technologies could soon change that.

NATO began its Smart Energy program in 2011 to explore ways to improve the use of solar energy and storage options as well as innovations in micro grid technology to better manage energy use at base and on the move. Small scale wind and solar are the main contenders for power generation on remote bases.

The U.S. Department of Defense created the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Operational Energy in 2010 to research new approaches to energy security. Programs are exploring efficient generators, advanced batteries, portable solar arrays, and improved insulation to reduce costs and fuel drops. Air conditioning alone costs billions of defense dollars per year, for example.

Back on U.S. soil, all branches of the military are working towards increasing renewable deployment on bases, moving closer to the Department of Defense’s goal of having 25 percent of its energy needs met by renewable resources by 2025.

These same projects have much to offer military and civilian workers operating in humanitarian crises. Access to reliable power is essential to providing an adequate humanitarian response – in particular medical assistance – and also for rebuilding affected communities.

The benefits of access to fuel for cooking, lighting, heating, and power have been well documented. As in a combat zone, diesel-powered generators and gasoline are expensive and access to the grid unreliable or non-existent. Beyond the household, communities that are remote or have been cut off by a disaster can benefit from a wide array of renewable-powered projects, such as solar-powered water pumps. Moreover, safe access to power can provide a semblance of normalcy for people in an otherwise difficult and even hostile environment.

Innovative solutions coming out of the military can be adapted to a civilian context. The critical element is the need for the system to be self-contained, easy to set up and operate, portable, and sustainable. Portable water and power solutions developed for a Navy SEAL team on the move, for example, could be applicable to a remote community cut off by a natural catastrophe or refugee camp cut off by conflict.

Of course, humanitarian organizations are developing many of their own solutions but more cross-pollination should be welcomed.

The importance of climate change as a driving factor should not be underestimated. Military commanders have recognized that climate change will bring about more challenging conditions, conflicts, and humanitarian crises. While the military and humanitarian sectors do not always mix, there is no shortage of opportunities for each side to learn from each other in this space and to both contribute to the greater deployment of renewable energy.

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  1. kimyo

    i am not aware of any renewable fuels capable of powering humvees or helicopters, much less f35’s. looking for the military to provide a solution here is like relying on oilprice to post propaganda-free coherent content. it’s a dreamy vision, but it has no connection to reality.

    if the military is serious about climate change, then shut down 1/2 of the bases. the air conditioning savings alone…..

    Al Gore: I shouldn’t have supported corn-based ethanol

    Former vice president Al Gore said Monday that he regrets supporting first-generation corn-based ethanol subsidies while he was in office.

    Reuters reports that Gore said his support for corn-based ethanol subsidies was rooted more in his desire to cultivate farm votes for his presidential run in 2000 than in doing what was right for the environment:

    “It is not a good policy to have these massive subsidies for first-generation ethanol,” said Gore, speaking at a green energy business conference in Athens, Greece.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Sugar cane based ethanol in Brazil is apparent not an ecological negative, but I’m told it is the only ethanol that does the trick.

      Whether you can use battery operated vehicles depends on their range. I’d hazard there is more than you think, particularly at bases, that could be converted to batteries, with fossil fuel use focused on combat and surveillance, and routine ops with longer and more uncertain transit ranges.

      1. kimyo

        to make the batteries you need fossil fuels to do the mining/extraction. in the field or even at home (attached to the u.s. grid), you’d still largely be using fossil fuels to recharge the batteries.

        why not trim our military adventures in half? why can’t we admit that the current ‘threat’ of isis is largely the result of our failed iraq ‘strategy’, which consumed an ungodly amount of resources and emitted untold gabillions of tons of co2, not to mention scads of depleted uranium.

        SIGAR: We built an Afghanistan they can’t afford

        Why is it important that the United States and its taxpayers invest in electricity for Afghanistan?

        Electricity is key to a developing the economy. Electricity is key to industry. In Kandahar, in particular, because that was a hotbed of terrorist activity, we wanted to win over the hearts and minds of the people.

        So, we tried to develop a power strategy by rebuilding the Kajaki Dam, which was initially built by the United States in the 1950s. [But] because it was taking too long to rebuild the Kajaki Dam, we started building diesel generators. The problem with the diesel generators is that they are very expensive and not sustainable. Now, the lights are going to go off in Kandahar, because the Afghans can no longer afford to keep the generators operating and the Kajaki dam is not complete.

        Ice cream and dreams melt as Kandahar’s electricity falters

        At another diesel power plant built with U.S. funds across town, the generators are silent. Last year, USAID provided 300,000 liters of diesel fuel to one of Kandahar’s three diesel plants, according to Rasoul Balkhi, the director of power for the province. This year, he said, they’ve received nothing.

        “Only one bunch of fuel came in last year, nine, ten, months ago,” he said. “We burned [it], we used [it] and then stop and no more fuel.”

        Running that one plant at full capacity would give the people of Kandahar eight hours of electricity a day. (They currently get about four, in two two-hour blocks.) But power officials say it just doesn’t make financial sense. At the rates they charge, they can only cover 10 percent of the cost of fuel.

        i really don’t think the military are the go-to guys here, as far as carbon emissions are concerned.

      2. Brooklin Bridge

        Small gains can add up quickly, especially in areas where transport, such as by air, is costly. So by the article every gallon saved for lighting or communications or other light consumption compatible with renewables can be equal to seven gallons of oil-based fuel that can be better used elsewhere. And that is just the low hanging fruit.

        It makes perfect sense for the military to be doing serious research and hopefully that will in turn provide gains for the industry as a whole.

        It should also not be counted out that the military, in its own way, is aware of gathering environmental problems and is not opposed to giving renewables a boost.

        1. JTMcPhee

          Yeah, the Juggernaut is aware of the opportunities for increased hegemony and personal and institutional growth that “gathering environmental problems” are presenting. The hard sell, with lots of data that have been updated to increase the areas of disruption where “the military” can insert its tentacles and bayonets, comes first, in the linked DoD planning document. Read the details of how not only can “the military” grow like a tumor though the coming horrors, so can “US Industry” that will be positioned to provide Halliburton and Bechtel-quality (sic) “engineering expertise,” but financial and political advice (cue the Nuland) and just as with “the military’s” other “activities” that foster sales of “American armaments,” lots of sales of heavy earthmoving equipment and stuff like that.

          All to the tune of integrating the operations of all those militaries and national police forces into the “response network” of our Global Network-Centric Interoperable Battlespace, how neatly it all aligns — right? “Trends and Implications of Climate Change for National and International Security,” And there’s lots more, for the person who wants more detail even on how the climate collapse will be “managed” and “governed” and profited from, at this link of links:

          It’s all so rational and sensible, isn’t it? Warfighting (and losing, again, and again, even the rigged war games, though disruption seems to be the actual goal, and screw the troop losses, like 3,000 GI casualties just running convoys of fuel to “the front” that vanishes and reappears elsewhere, magically, as “the doctrine” and “the narrative” morph); spanning the entire planet with the hegemonic military net; oooh, and “greening,” so more petroleum is available for “warfighting,” which is mostly done to ensure the continued flow of petroleum to “the West…” Talk about self-licking — and as it’s said of dogs and cats, “Why do they lick themselves there? Because they CAN!”

          Another tumor, growing busily away in our species’ innards…

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            Let’s see, we have a gargantuan military to 1). protect the borders from invasion, got that pretty well covered, and 2). to secure access to the shaky energy supply chain. So what’s the punchline: if the military no longer needs access to shaky energy supplies, does that mean they could go back to the sole mission of protecting the borders? Um, a force 1/20th the current size could do that and still have plenty left over. I’m for it!

      3. rusti

        I’d hazard there is more than you think, particularly at bases, that could be converted to batteries, with fossil fuel use focused on combat and surveillance, and routine ops with longer and more uncertain transit ranges.

        I’d be interested to see a breakdown of total energy usage to make some more informed guesses regarding how much there is to gain on this, but some quick searching online didn’t yield very much.

        Battery electric vehicles on bases seem like a clear win because it’s a relatively confined area where charging infrastructure can be built out so they don’t need absurdly large battery packs to achieve longer ranges, but heavy transport over long distances without pre-existing infrastructure (as in whatever new country we invade) is near-impossible for anything battery driven.

        Fuel cells ought to be promising if efficiencies can be brought up significantly, but that appears to be a long way away technologically. If the American taxpayer can’t be convinced to fund this research through wasteful public spending like Universities, maybe they’ll have fewer objections to doing it under the DoD umbrella.

          1. rusti

            Maybe I’m missing something obvious here, but why would that be an important threshold for battery manufacturing to reach other than as a symbolic value?

            1. jsn

              For energy supplied from a battery to reduce carbon emissions, the battery must store more energy in its life than was spent on its manufacture.

              Except in isolated cases the supply chain and manufacturing process for batteries is powered with fossil fuels.

              So, only after it has stored an equal amount of energy to that required for its existence, energy produced from renewable sources, can it begin to reduce overall carbon emissions.

              1. rusti

                But there’s no reason the entirety of the supply chain needs to be powered with fossil fuels, even if it is predominately that way now, right? It’s fine to have a net loss if you’re addressing the “duck curve” by doing so.

                The site you linked is interesting, but I find it odd that there’s no mention of the complementary nature of solar and wind or demand response.

          2. pat b

            most claims of this sort are sort of BS.

            we have very little info to properly evaluate energy investment.

            i say it’s better to use financial tools because we have good solid accounts
            and price does have a correlation to energy.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          One area where battery technology is winning out is in submarines. Diesel electric subs are gradually becoming preferred over nuclear because they are stealthier (they don’t require cooling) and are now efficient enough to provide several days of cruising.

          I very much doubt battery powered tanks or other armoured vehicles will every match fossil fuel ones, but diesel electric hybrids are something of a no-brainer for many military uses now. They are far more fuel efficient and provide an element of stealthiness (very quiet).

    2. C

      Unquestionably this will require changes in vehicles over time but that is a purpetual problem. Systems like the M1A1 were considered fuel inefficient when they were first bought and as bad as up-armoured hummers are they are better than that.

      But of you start by supplying your energy needs for command and control, communications, and basic heat and light with solar and wind then you can reduce the need for fuel drops and conserve those resources for the more expensive vehicles. At the same time you can make fuel efficiency or battery alternatives a requirement for next generation systems.

      Every little bit helps.

    3. Paul Tioxon

      The above reports on US Marines at Camp Lejune trying out solar powered mobile equipment, including electric all terrain vehicles. See below for mix biofuel diesel blends that power humvees etc.

      “One of the five energy goals is to demonstrate and then deploy a “Great Green Fleet,” which will include ships and aircraft using alternative sources of energy, including nuclear power, and utilizing multiple energy conservation measures as part of their regular, scheduled deployments throughout calendar year 2016. The Great Green Fleet is named in honor of President Theodore Roosevelt’s Great White Fleet, which helped usher in America as a global power on the world stage at the beginning of the 20th Century. The Great Green Fleet ushers in the new normal, where our Navy values energy as a strategic resource, maximizing energy efficiencies and cultivating multiple sources of alternative energy.”

      “Advanced Biofuel Blends

      The ships and aircraft in the Great Green Fleet demonstration were powered by alternative fuel, either nuclear or advanced biofuel blends. The biofuel blends were 50-50 mixtures of biofuel (made from used cooking oil and algae) and petroleum-based marine diesel or aviation fuel.

      Approximately 450,000 gallons of 100% “neat” biofuel were purchased in 2011 in preparation for the Great Green Fleet demonstration.

      Navy surface ships were powered using 350,000 gallons of hydroprocessed renewable diesel (HRD-76) blended with an equal amount of marine diesel (F-76).
      Navy aircraft burned 100,000 gallons of hydroprocessed renewable jet fuel (HRJ-5) blended with aviation fuel (JP-5).

      Investments in an alternative to foreign sources of fuel will help the Navy and the nation become less dependent on foreign oil, and less subject to volatility in oil prices that can directly affect our readiness.”

      Above excerpted from Green Fleet maneuvers by the US Navy. Yes, your french fry consumption is powering F-22s etc.


      It is important to also report the republicans, who receive 90% of all of the political contributions from Big Oil, Gas and the energy sector in general, have been getting the vast majority of their money for decades, sent their hatchet men in Congress to attack the Navy for going hippie doodle dah day with all of this Green talk nonsense!!!

      Of course, it cost too much!! Why pay for biofuels when oil is cheaper? Well, dopes in Congress, we will not be able to expect it to be cheaper for the next 10 or 20 years, if we can even get our hands on enough to fuel our navy, air force and army. And if there is a real military threat, getting oil from over there to over here may be impossible. Hence, the start up costs of going renewable are going to be more than the well established century old oil sector, which of course we know is subsidized by the operation of the very Navy protection of its world wide transport in oil tankers, from deep sea drilling platforms, that it is complaining about spending too much money. Like the de-criminalization of pot, freeing the cops from bullshit drug busts, the move to non crude oil based fuels will make oil less strategically important to our vital national interests. And we can focus on more important missions for the US Navy, like finding new tropical islands to open up bases with great golf courses for the brass.

      1. craazyboy

        I like French fries, but not that much.

        “The DoD runs on oil. Despite its daily oil consumption has been declining from almost 400,000 barrels in 2004 to less than 350,000 barrels in 2012, the DoD is still the single largest oil consumer in the world. There are only 35 countries in the world consuming more oil than DoD. The U.S. Air Force is the largest oil consumer within the DoD services.”

        I think we need a new thought paradigm. Conservation. Stop moving a bazillion tons of equipment around the world.

        1. lord koos

          It’s pretty hard to imagine the military “going green”. As well as being one of the biggest fossil fuel users, the US military is one of the biggest polluters on the planet, and that’s not adding in the considerable environmental damage caused by the wars.

          I read somewhere that by the time gasoline gets into Afghanistan, the final cost is about $400 per gallon. Since they get all the money they want, it’s kind of a “what, me worry?” mentality.

          1. Paul Tioxon

            Fortunately for those of us who don’t try to imagine an alternative but instead try them out and build them, the US military is charging hard into solar energy. Of course, this is under the cover of Obama’s administration not ordering them to stand down and tear down whatever it is that they have done on the soft energy path. Unlike Reagan upon entering the WH, and tearing down the roof top solar hot water heater and blessing Detroit to make the big gas guzzlers we have come to know and love, the gigantic SUVs. Could try to flood this site with example in attempts to educate the skeptical, but you know how to use google, if you really wanted to know, you could easily do so. But, one more example:

            The U.S. military has installed more than 130 MW of solar in 31 states across the country.


            1. craazyboy

              Solar on US bases saves electricity from US power plants, not oil. The above link I posted put the entire percentage of btu use of electricity by the military at 12.3% of the total.

              The 130MW is a tiny amount, and that is the nameplate rating at peak sunshine, no less.

              The real way to make the military turn green is to make them stay home more.

              1. Paul Tioxon

                Solar electric is killing coal fired plants, stop being an Oilbot, and pretending that change is not underway. The facts speak for themselves. Wind power, hydro power, geo-thermal power and Net Zero architecture are part of the array of sustainable, green power. Deal with it. The military is contributing to solar energy whether you like the military or not. The day will come when there will be little reason for them to go anywhere for oil,gas or coal. All contributions however small are welcome and bolster the case for the heliocentric powered economy. The relationship of the military to Big Oil is changing, it is a strategic matter of policy to begin the transition now. Maybe we will fight over sunshine in the future, ya never know, but I know we won’t be fighting over oil because no one will want it anymore. Fossil fuels are over, it is a matter of time before they are not used in any meaningful amount.

                1. ambrit

                  My problem with your point is the length of time, and the perceived benefits, this will entail. Replacing an older infrastructure is not just showing that something can be done. It must also be forcefully shown to produce a superior outcome for the power centres. Otherwise, inertia will rule the day. Then, only pure disaster can shift the paradigm.
                  A point Frank Herbert made in “The Dragon in the Sea” was that oil is still the optimal source of lubricants. That, as long as we use a technology utilizing moving parts, will keep petroleum going as a viable business.

                  1. different clue

                    What percent of oil use goes to lubrication? The smaller a percent it is, the smaller an oil industry we will need if lubrication is the only thing left for oil to do.

    4. ewmayer

      Between that huge flip-flop, the notorious utility bills of his mansion in Tennessee, and his support for climate-change-hyped Wall-Street scam-vehicles in the form of tradable carbon credits [as detailed a few years back by Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi, among others], this man has 0 credibility remaining in this arena. Just STFU and go back to fellating your Wall Street masters full-time, Al Gore.

  2. Steve H.

    ” … the greater deployment of renewable energy.”

    It’s not a deployment. It’s just a ploy.

    Military history is defined by ‘more power’ and never by ‘more efficiency.’ Looking for a single case where a war, or even a battle, was won by more efficiency.

    1. Steve H.

      My comment can be mudded up by reference to logistic chains. Let me be clearer. History shows that the release of greater amounts of energy in a shorter time, in a more defined space, is the leverage that wins battles. This holds from a rock to a nuke.

      ‘Renewable energy’ might seem to hold true for a solar-powered laptop or batteries. They are useful at the end of a logistic chain, for example the mountains or desert. But the total energy resources burned through to provide the ‘renewable’ item on-site vastly outweighs any ‘green’ aspects inherent.

      His line of reasoning is equivalent to ‘get IED’s to blow off legs so we can advance knowledge of prosthetics.’ I find it reprehensible.

      1. jefemt

        Reprehensible, PLUS, you get to pay for it, and all the unfunded liabilities of the VA and that entire ‘welfare’ class.

        Words in the breeze or not, the Pope is on to something in his questioning endless War and modern ‘finance’.

        On the energy front, it’s interesting to see one of the hot young minds, Amory Lovins (Soft Energy Paths) has somewhat disappeared… apparently doing much of his work for the last decade for the- you guessed it… War Department.

        1. Brooklin Bridge

          Couldn’t agree more that endless wars are the major problem with the military (and our government) right now and should come first. But the military(s) will continue to exist regardless of how they are used and they will also continue to be primary technology drivers.

          1. different clue

            Did the military ask for the endless wars? Or is it the civilian leadership that asked for the wars?

            Who lied about Iraq, for example? The service chiefs or the cheney lords?

        2. Steve H.

          Someone I have deep respect for, who went head-to-head with the US Army Corp of Engineers over dredging up toxic waste in the Calumet River, is now (last I heard) doing risk assessments of cell phone shutdowns on a military grant.

          This comes from not having tenure and the push from the university for grant money. The university instantly takes half the grant for operating expenses. It’s no longer ‘publish or perish.’ Grants for environmental research have atrophied, and that trend really took off under Bill Clinton. Lawsuit payouts under environmental regulations are ineffective, as corporate lawyers are experts in extending litigation for decades.

          So now it’s either take the war money or lose the lab. Doctoral students did not like it when ecologist David Ehrenfeld advised them to learn plumbing or auto mechanics to support their research, but he had a pretty accurate overview of the system.

    2. tim s

      Really? If power is the be all end all, then the US should have won every war they engaged in since WW2.

      The military is not interested in advancing renewable energy in any way other than to provide them with greater flexibility given the precariousness of our fossil fuel arrangements. Any advantage that they can get from renewables will be welcomed by them, and I doubt that they think that the complete replacement of fossil fuels is realistic.

      As far as efficiency, it is in focus everywhere, but I doubt that you will find much written specifically about efficiency. Efficiency will show up in how long a flight an aircraft can make and how much payload can be carried given a certain amount of fuel, how much energy can be stored for release in a certain size weapon, how much nutrition can be packed into a soldiers meal, etc, etc ad nauseum.

      1. Steve H.

        Mea culpa to your first point, I should have restricted my comments to battles and not wars. The U.S. reigns supreme in winning battles. Not wars.

        Let me go a bit deeper, as I don’t strongly disagree with anything you wrote in your comment. I responded to the handwaving about renewables by talking about efficiency. I was distracted by the automatic correlation between renewables and green/environmental marketing. In truth what disgusts me about what the author is doing is that his conclusion talks about global warming. He gets there by switching (about the 2/3 point) to marketing the military as a humanitarian organization. It is not a humanitarian organization. It’s primary skill set is killing people.

        That same tactic was used by Supreme Court judges recently. Dissenters to the Marraige ruling managed to focus the conversation on a narrow portion of the disagreement, concerning contract law. This led to supporters of the ruling being distracted about who the ruling mainly affected as they discussed the dissent, which was written by those seeking obfuscation to their own ends.

        It is an effective tactic. It stirs the emotions, which reduce frontal lobe effectiveness. It is best countered by honest conversation and a focus on where people agree. So, thanks for your comment.

    3. pat b

      The Battle of the Bulge, where the Germans ran out of diesel, while the Americans were still fighting.

  3. HotFlash

    It is true, historically, that many technological advances have been invented and/or developed for military use and subsequently went on to enrich civilian life, everything from radar to jet engines to computers to the Internet and, of course, Spam. Largely due to lavish applications of government money for R&D without penalty for failure.

    On the other hand, one of the major causes for wars is resource appropriation and control, with petroleum and access thereto being the prime target these days.

    So, one wonders how assiduously the military will work itself out of a job. Couldn’t the government just, you know, lavishly spend the money on green R&D and just go directly to enriching civilian life?

    1. ambrit

      The underlying rationale for “lavishly spend[ing] the money on green R&D” is the same as in any war related endeavour, a sense of crisis. I quoted Jerry Pournelle yesterday in a comment; “No one ever went over the top crying, ‘A higher Standard of Living!'” The original works done that later produced civilian benefits were first and foremost engaged in for military purposes. This is even more so now that so much of our basic R&D is funded by the military directly, and indirectly. (HAARP was not funded by the Department of Agriculture!)
      That the military is pursuing serious research into GreenTech is a signal that the underlying situation is already entering a period of crisis. There’s our Good News Bad News for today.

  4. MartyH

    Nice “War is Good For You” piece. Assuming the benefits are real and as clear as painted, the government can do this without annoying Big Energy .. because it can … but it won’t eliminate any of the barriers erected by Big Energy in the non-Military sector where the benefits would be to actual citizens (and businesses small and huge). That would be a breach of the covenant with the Funders, I guess.

  5. Felix

    The military is a top down operation. Orders flow downhill. They were the first to really integrate blacks based on orders. If the policy makers deem solar or energy saving to be significant it will be imposed on the military all the way down the system from the top. Even the F-35 is ultimately a political product.

  6. ltr

    Military spending is designed to prepare for smashing things and killing people. The idea that military spending is or could be green is an offensive fantasy.

    1. rusti

      If they can develop and deploy technologies that have better energy/power density or supply chains preferable to fossil fuel equivalents there are obviously compelling reasons for them to pursue it. If it makes you feel better, it’s not really “Green” in the sense that it’s environmentally benign, it’s just shifting the burden away from the atmosphere.

    2. FluffytheObeseCat

      “Green” energy is not inherently benign. It can and likely will be used for aggression just as readily as petroleum has been.

    3. pat b

      funny, all that atomic energy, including small atomic reactors for remote bases,
      submarines, carriers, what was all that?

  7. craazyboy

    A Green Military. hahaha that’s funny.

    Maybe they can get the M1 Main Battle Tank fuel mileage up a bit from the current half a mile per gallon???

    Commercial potential for technology like that – Detroit and Japan may learn something?!


    Oh, yes, battery powered vehicles. We have been spending billions on battery tech already, and our best shot can store one fifth the energy density of liquid fuel. Really not a choice for 60 ton tanks and trucks.

    So they might do “research” to take rooftop solar panels and design them as portable units to power temporary buildings. I hope they don’t spend too much to figure out how to do that.

    1. pat b

      being able to up the fuel consumption of a tank means you can also up the fuel
      efficiency of tractors, small locomotives, diesel bulldozers, one ton trucks.

      as for 60 ton trucks and tanks, an 18 wheeler carries 300 Gallons of fuel
      or about a ton. if you increase that to 5 tons of battery, it means the vehicle
      carries 8% less cargo, not a big deal if 30% of the operating cost goes away.

  8. frosty zoom

    “We must progress to the stage of doing all the right things for all the right reasons instead of doing all the right things for all the wrong reasons.” ~ buckminster fuller.

  9. MrColdWaterOfRealityMan

    The single stumbling block to our switch to clean energy is the current state of our battery technology, which ranges from bad to pathetic when you compare volumetric density to that of fossil fuels.

    If DoD can crack that, they will not only fuel the military, but actually prevent future wars by preventing the resource shortages that fuel war in the first place.

    1. pat b

      Funny, you would appear to be utterly unaware of Electric cars. The Tesla P85D has a 220 Mile
      range and can run 0-60 in 3 seconds. It’s system efficiency, an electric motor is very efficient,
      and thus beats the tar out of a gas engine.

  10. FluffytheObeseCat

    I’d love to know why the critics of this piece keep railing about large, powerful vehicles like the F-35 jet……. when the author was clearly discussing the use of on-the-ground power generation for fueling part of day-to-day operations at stationary bases.

    1. craazyboy

      Because consumption by diesel generators is “a drop in the bucket” compared to all the vehicles.

      It’s like when someone tells you using 2 sheets of toilet paper will reduce global warming.

      Then the author mentioned “more efficient generators” as an item needing research. Generators are well over 100 year old technology – and we’ve made them as efficient as physics will allow, already.

      1. frosty zoom

        2 sheets times 7 billion butts times a couple times a day = a whole bunch of trees.

        1. JTMcPhee

          My guess is that the vast majority of that 7 billion has no access to Charmin or even the generic 80-grit sandpaper from the Dollar Store…

          In the Philippines, we use soap and water to clean our butt after defecation. It is cleaner than just wiping the butt with rolls of toilet paper that is not available in most homes especially in the rural areas. We are taught to wash our hands thoroughly with soap and water after each visit to the toilet. Each of us is different but we are one in observing proper hygiene anywhere anytime.

          Another strange custom of the Exceptional Nacerima, laid out here: “Body Ritual Among the Nacerima”,

          1. frosty zoom

            spoiled? hah! we use macho wipe here.

            and, of course, most humans don’t use toilet paper, thank god.

            but(t – haha!) they will as soon as they can. first comes the ham, then the toilet paper.

            but my point is valid – even small personal changes add up on a global scale. the best thing to do is make fewer humans.

      2. pat b

        Diesel Generators may be a drop in the bucket, but, diesel trucks that haul supplies around
        to bases and diesel patrol vehicles that drive the wire and diesel consumed when idling a tank,
        start adding up.

        Being able to reduce one gallon burned at a FOB in korengal, probably eliminates 200 gallons
        of diesel burned getting it there, so, that has a pretty big lever.

  11. susan the other

    I like it that the military can get away with green tech research. If any other institution went hat in hand to ask for green tech funding Congress would kick them out the door and down the steps. I also like the fact that the military is its own captive market, so the products will be tested and used and improved all in a day’s work. It was said a while ago that evolution was dead because there are no more isolated populations to foster mutants, but just a big population that dilutes every chance for gene change… that’s how I feel about military research. It’s sufficiently isolated that it can bring about change. And green tech is just fine with me. I hope they expand it to include ecological cleanup.

  12. Pepsi

    This is one point where military keynesianism can help.

    The united states needs a ww2 command switchover to renewable everything. If our entire economy is broken because of financialization and fossil fuels, the untouchable military can punch through the agnotology around renewables.

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