Energy Innovation and National Security: Scanning the Horizon of Defense Department Energy Initiatives
August 31, 2010
Earlier this summer, the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Department of Defense (DOD) released a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to expedite clean energy innovation and improve energy security in the United States. The agreement covers a vast array of initiatives in the areas of energy efficiency, renewable energy, water efficiency, fossil fuels, alternative fuels, efficient transportation technologies and fueling infrastructure, grid security, smart grid, storage, waste-to-energy, basic science research, mobile/deployable power, small modular reactor nuclear energy, and related areas. This MOU comes at a time of increased activity in policy circles surrounding DOD’s role in the energy space—both from a strategic “energy security” perspective and from an operational standpoint (i.e., reducing energy-related vulnerabilities for deployed troops and lowering energy costs). With such a diverse range of actors providing input— from top military officials (current and retired) to academics, think tanks, and private companies, all offering unique rationales for DOD’s engagement—it is useful both to take stock of the current dialogue and to assess the potential challenges and opportunities in promoting U.S. energy security in the future.