American chemistry geared up for U.S. military march toward clean energy innovation

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has embarked on a stalwart march toward clean energy innovation, as America’s chemistry industry gears up for what may become one of the military’s greatest tactical maneuvers of the 21st century.

Grist’s David Roberts thinks the military’s storied move is all about “technology, the changing face of warfare, geopolitics in the 21st century, and the struggle to change one of the world’s largest bureaucracies.”

Last week, the Pew Charitable Trusts released a report detailing the progress DoD has made on the accelerated development of energy efficiency and energy renewable technologies.

The report, which has received much attention since its Wednesday release, brings to light some of the mission-critical priorities influencing DoD’s actions. Among them, keeping American troops out of harm’s way, enhancing energy security and saving our country money.

Phyllis Cuttino, director of the Pew Clean Energy Program, explained in a release:

As one of the largest energy consumers in the world, the Department of Defense has the capability to help shape America’s energy future. DoD’s efforts to harness clean energy will save lives, save money and enhance the nation’s energy and economic future. Its work is also helping to spur industry growth and demonstrate technological feasibility.

A guest blogger with Climate Progress pointed out back in June that, fortunately, DoD has received strong reinforcement from Congress on these initiatives. To date, a handful of bipartisan bills call for “defense-related energy technology innovation,” including the Energy Independence Security Act of 2007 and the Department of Defense Energy Security Act of 2011, aimed at systematically reducing the military’s energy consumption.

This month’s report, however, takes aim at three specific opportunities for energy-related innovations:

  • Energy efficient vehicles: reducing the military’s dependence on oil through R&D and demo projects, leading to the deployment of clean vehicle technologies in air, land and sea fleets;
  • Advanced biofuels: developing and producing biofuels in a way that is cost-competitive, compatible with existing hardware, domestically available and environmentally sound;
  • Clean energy at DoD bases: focusing on energy efficient technologies and operations (e.g. microgrids) and renewable energy technologies (e.g. solar).

As one of the leading enablers of energy efficient and renewable energy technologies – products like solar cells, wind turbines and rechargeable batteries literally could not function without chemistry – our industry looks forward to supporting the U.S. military’s efforts to safeguard our troops and our country with current and future chemistry innovations.

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