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Rocky Mountain Institute Helps the Department of Defense with Energy Policy

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  • sigmabetafiji
    From RMI Solutions Journal Winter/Fall 2008 RMI Helps the Department of Defense with Energy Policy Big breakthrough. That s how RMI Chief Scientist Amory
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 12, 2008
      From RMI Solutions Journal Winter/Fall 2008

      RMI Helps the Department of Defense with Energy Policy

      "Big breakthrough."

      That's how RMI Chief Scientist Amory Lovins described the Pentagon's
      recent shift in thinking about energy use. When buying platforms or
      devices that use energy in combat, all the Armed Services must now
      value energy at its "fully burdened cost." This means the entire cost
      of delivering the energy— sometimes hundreds of times the fuel's
      direct cost—will be counted, rather than assumed to be zero as it was
      in the past. Lovins believes the benefits of this change in thinking
      will be widespread. Entire divisions of military personnel are
      devoted to delivering fuel and guarding fuel convoys, so properly
      valuing saved fuel and using it far more efficiently will save
      billions, ultimately tens of billions, of dollars a year. And since
      half the casualties in theater are related to convoys, and about 70
      percent of the tonnage they haul is fuel, saving fuel will also save
      lives. The decision was made in 2007 but couldn't be revealed until
      an unclassified report, "More Fight, Less Fuel," crafted by a Defense
      Science Board Task Force on which Lovins served, came out in February
      2008. The document strongly reinforces RMI's 2004 findings in Winning
      the Oil Endgame and previous work about the potential to triple
      military energy efficiency while making warfighting both more capable
      and less necessary. "The military has emerged this year as the leader
      within our federal government in getting our country off oil," Lovins
      said. "They're going to require, design, and buy platforms—anything
      that uses energy in the battlespace, from tanks and planes to soldier
      electronics—based on the fully burdened cost of fuel. In other words,
      they're going to value saved energy enormously higher than they did
      before. We're now helping to work this into military doctrine,
      training, reward systems, cultures, and practices, so the Department
      of Defense will irreversibly focus on efficiency."

      DoD and Energy Efficiency

      The Department of Defense is the world's largest buyer of oil and the
      nation's largest single user of energy. In 2006, DoD purchased 110
      million barrels of petroleum, costing $13.6 billion, and 3.8 billion
      kilowatt-hours of electricity—roughly 78 percent of all energy
      consumed by the federal government. Much of that energy is wasted and
      could be saved without compromising combat effectiveness. Also,
      because of its scale and skills, DoD is in a unique position to
      innovate and help lead the nation to a post-oil economy. Military R&D
      can greatly speed massive shifts in civilian technology, as it has
      done by creating the microchip industry, the Internet, the Global
      Positioning System, and modern jet engines. Moreover, DoD is already
      the world's largest buyer of renewable energy and is driving cutting-
      edge installations and developments in electricity and biofuels.

      But the military's strongest motivation comes from the direct and
      immediate costs of energy waste. "When you have a limited number at
      the army `speartip,' supported by a vast pyramid of people and
      equipment, and those few trigger-pullers are tied down hauling or
      guarding fuel, there's an enormous penalty in lost combat capability.
      It's not just blood and treasure, but also being unable to fight
      because you're distracted by fuel logistics. All the field commanders
      know this. We've had Marine generals begging for efficiency and
      renewables to untether them from oil so they can fight," said Lovins.
      The Task Force also found that the electric grid's physical and
      cybernetic vulnerabilities are so severe that all 585 military bases
      in the United States, as well as those abroad, should shift
      to "islandable" netted microgrids and on-site renewable power where
      possible. The report even urges "netzero installations"—bases and
      facilities that need no energy from the grid. "It never occurred to
      me when I wrote Brittle Power— long before the modern Internet took
      shape—how stupidly we'd use the grid," Lovins notes. "You can hack
      into some utilities' control systems through their billing systems by
      pretending you're a customer. And you can then do very, very bad
      things that don't just interrupt the power system but destroy it."

      Getting the Word Out

      For many years, Lovins has lectured at a variety of military and
      civilian venues about military energy efficiency's potential and
      importance. He believes "endurance" and "resilience" should be seen
      as two new "strategic vectors"—big ideas that drive the revolution in
      military affairs. (The four strategic vectors already adopted have
      been speed, stealth, precision, and networking.) He has taken this
      message to the Defense Acquisition University, where all the
      military's acquisition officers are trained. He's also eyeing the
      Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) and other centers that form
      military doctrine. "Doctrine is sort of like the Constitution,"
      Lovins explains. "It's the set of written principles that guide
      military strategy and behavior. The military is an enormously complex
      entity. If you want to change the mindsets of the people who make the
      rules, you go to places like TRADOC." But he doesn't plan to stop
      with the military. The biggest traction, he thinks, will come when
      DoD demands more and more efficient platforms and requires its
      contractors to build them. Once prime contractors seriously compete
      over who can build the most efficient tanks, trucks, ships, and
      planes, military leadership in the technology and adoption of
      advanced energy efficiency will really take off. Ultimately, it will
      greatly accelerate the tripled-efficiency cars, trucks, and planes
      that will get America off oil, so the military needn't fight over
      oil. That's a sound path to a safer world. Clearly, RMI is fighting
      the good fight.


      Rocky Mountain Institute and Solutions Journal Online @:

      http://www.rmi.org/sitepages/pid106.php
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