The Department of Defense (DoD) is the largest industrial consumer of oil in the world, using 125 million barrels of oil in FY 2010, which was more than that consumed by 82% of the world’s countries individually. As the U.S. embarks on a future of fiscal constraint, DoD projects that, with a “business as usual” approach, energy costs will increase significantly and that it will spend $150 billion over the next decade on fuel and electricity alone.
There is a clear strategic role here for renewable energy. For example, the use of renewable energy in combat operations can reduce the need for hazardous fuel convoys, which were associated with 12% of Army casualties in Iraq and 35% of Army casualties in Afghanistan in 2007. Renewable energy along with efficiency improvements can increase warfighter capability and cut operational and military base energy costs. (View the infographic on the U.S. military’s energy use.)
The DoD has pledged to draw 25% of its energy from renewable sources by 2025. It makes sense that we would work closely together to make achieving that goal a reality. ACORE is uniquely positioned to help the DoD meet this challenge by drawing on the collective expertise and experience and renewable energy leadership demonstrated by our member organizations.
From my perspective as a 35-year veteran of the U.S. Navy, I believe ACORE should be focusing on this area because America’s overall energy posture is vitally important to both our security and our economic health. Our country’s energy, national security, and economic challenges are inextricably linked. The energy choices we make will make our nation either stronger or weaker; they can broaden and accelerate our economic growth, or threaten it.
America annually consumes nearly 25% of the world’s oil, while controlling only about 2% of known reserves. Domestic demand will always exceed domestic supply, and we cannot drill our way out of this problem. The only sensible approach as we continue to carefully leverage domestic supplies, is to cut back on demand through energy efficiency, while, at the same time, developing new sources of homegrown energy that can never run out.
Just as the military played a key role in getting the Internet off the ground, it can play an important part in developing alternative energy sources and efficiency technology. So I invite you to work with other ACORE members in the National Defense and Security Initiative. Help ACORE and the DoD envision and encourage market-friendly, common sense policies that will give renewable energy businesses clear signals, help attract the necessary capital, and encourage innovation and domestic job creation.
Dennis V. McGinn
Vice Admiral, U.S. Navy, Retired
President and CEO
American Council On Renewable Energy