We have long reported how the U.S. military is investing in green energy, producing innovations such as solar-powered tents, hydrogen-powered tanks and biofuel-powered plans. These advances stand to not only make the armed forces “greener”, but could also improve national security and economic prosperity. The Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (ARPA-e) have long realized that relying on foreign oil is not beneficial to national security, and are working on a series of initiatives to further develop and test energy-storage technologies.
One such project was announced by the Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus, at an ARPA-e conference. He stated that both the Department of Defence and ARPA-e were investing $25 million in power electronics modules and batteries that are capable of storing megawatts of power. “Twenty-five million dollars is the cost of one H-1 helicopter,” Mabus said. “The change that $25 million from DOD and ARPA–e can generate, can multiply that one helicopter hundreds and thousands of times.”
Considering the amount of lives that are put at risk protecting fuel convoys, it is quite the investment. According to Mabus, for every 24 fuel convoys in Afghanistan and Iraq, one soldier or Marine is killed or wounded. On top of that, the Department of Defence spends over $14 billion on fuel each year. “For every dollar the price of a barrel of oil goes up, the Navy spends $31 million more for fuel,” Mabus noted. “Our dependence on fossil fuels creates strategic, operational and tactical vulnerabilities for our forces.”
Other green projects the U.S. military are working on include:
- Solar-powered bases in Afghanistan instead of using diesel-electric generators.
- Foot patrols utilizing solar technology instead of carrying 700 pounds of backup batteries.
- The Great Green Fleet program which aims to convert 50 percent of the Navy’s energy use to alternatives by 2020.
- The RCB-X, a naval landing craft that is powered by a blend that includes 50 percent algae-based alternative fuel.
- Plans for every U.S. Naval base to have zero net-energy use.
- The U.S. Navy is producing 40,000 gallons of jet fuel derived from camelina—an oil-seed plant like canola.
With innovations such as this, it is no wonder that Charles Holliday, former CEO of DuPont and member of the American Energy Innovation Council has been reported as saying, “We should fund ARPA–e at $1 billion per year.” Currently the project’s budget is around $50 million.