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DOD Pursuing Energy-Saving Technologies for Installations

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  • March 24, 2011
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DOD is requesting $30 million as part of its fiscal 2012 budget to demonstrate energy technologies that have the potential to dramatically reduce the department’s facility energy demand.

Emerging technologies can reduce energy usage by 50 percent in existing buildings and 70 percent in new construction. Due to “huge impediments” to the commercialization of these technologies, though, DOD needs to invest in their development if it wants to take advantage of their potential, Dorothy Robyn, deputy undersecretary of defense for installations and environment, told the Senate Armed Services’ Readiness and Management Support Subcommittee last week.

“For those that prove effective, we’ll serve as an early customer,” she said.

The benefit for DOD to overcome the barriers to deploying new technologies is lowering its energy bill. The department has nearly 300,000 structures and 2.2 billion square feet of space. In 2010, DOD spent $4 billion, one quarter of the department’s energy bill, on facilities energy.

The Installation Energy Test Bed, as the program is called, has five focus areas:

  • advanced components to improve building energy efficiency;
  • advanced building energy management and control;
  • smart microgrid and energy storage to improve energy security;
  • tools and processes for design, assessment and decision-making for energy use and management; and
  • renewable energy generation on installations.

The 2012 request continues a program which began as a pilot in 2009 with $20 million in stimulus funds. Since then, the department has conducted a competition among major corporations, startups, universities and federal labs to develop new technologies. About 40 projects currently are under way, with results expected later this year, Robyn said.

This research program is just one element of the Pentagon’s effort to cut its energy usage, increase its reliance on renewable sources and improve its energy security. She explained that the Pentagon’s motivation to reduce its energy consumption is straightforward.

“These efforts to green the department of defense are good for the environment to be sure, but that’s not the main reason we’re pursuing them. The main reason is cost savings and mission assurance. They’re smart investments for the department and they will pay for themselves many times over,” Robyn told the subcommittee.

Visit the Armed Services Committee’s website to watch a webcast of the March 17 hearing or to read Robyn’s written statement.

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