DoD’s Burke homes in on ‘other ways to generate power, but also how to need less’

The assistant secretary of defense for operational energy plans and programs, Sharon Burke, recently discussed the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) operational energy strategy for the next decade at an event hosted by the Center for Strategic & International Studies.

“We’re looking at other ways to generate power, but also how to need less,” Burke said.

As one of the largest energy consumers in the world, DoD has launched a series of initiatives to reduce its energy consumption, lower costs and increase military effectiveness.

In March 2012, DoD released its Operational Energy Strategy Implementation Plan, a roadmap to transform energy use in military operations. In August 2012, DoD announced it would invest $9 billion into its energy strategy for the next five fiscal years and that 90 percent would go toward energy efficiency or energy performance upgrades.

Burke said DoD is working to reduce energy consumption at various levels, including the individual level with soldier power and what they refer to as “the big movers,” which includes planes, ships and vehicles. According to Burke, DoD is currently supporting innovations that include batteries, tactical solar power, cooling and heating technologies, and energy-efficient engines.

Chemistry contributes to the operational energy efficiency of the U.S. military in many ways: from the light-weighting of aircraft and military gear, to technologies that provide power to troops in remote places, to high-performance insulation, HVAC systems, lighting, roofing and energy control and management systems that reduce energy use at fixed installations and save DoD billions of dollars.

Chemistry is also contributing to the military’s energy storage needs and mission success by providing the technology that enables advanced batteries, solar-powered tents made with flexible photovoltaic panels, auxiliary power units for aircraft and tanks, and fuel cells, among other technologies.

Innovations from chemistry are integral to DoD’s energy initiatives. Through our many energy-saving solutions, chemistry makes it possible for our military to use more efficient and diverse energy sources that improve its capabilities, enhance energy security, and protect our troops.

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