The publicity pay-off won't be nearly so great from the Pentagon's latest mega-plan, the Energy Initiatives Task Force, but the financial pay-off should be much greater.
Fact is our military is more vulnerable to an oil shock than any civilian agency. It takes enormous amounts of energy to stay in a place like Afghanistan, and those supply lines can be cut rather easily. The Army has been experimenting with “solar tents” in-country for a few years, tents covered in thin-film solar panels that can run the devices needed for command-and-control. But the rest of even a small base must still be powered from outside, and those supplies must come through hostiles at great risk to life.
But that's not all. Geothermal energy technology has lagged badly in the last few years, because oil companies simply won't cooperate so long as oil reserves are more valuable than geothermal ones. But the Defense Department says there is enough geothermal potential under its present installations to make those sites net energy exporters to the grids surrounding them.
There's also some serious capital investment going in here. Try $7.1 billion over 10 years – or $700 million a year, steady.
Sir, yes sir. No mater what Houston or Dallas say about renewable energy, the military has now dubbed it mission critical to become self-sustaining, not only in terms of energy but in terms of water and waste. This is more money going into “clean tech” than you'll find from any other source.
What this means is that as innovations come out of the lab they will get a chance to scale, in an environment where people aren't worrying about the next text result or the next quarter,
This is precisely what was done with DARPANet 40 years ago. Build it, scale it, don't worry about the money but the mission. We'll see what you come up with. And what they came up with is this here Internet you're soaking in, built with the same mission-first business model.
This is an important piece of news. Its importance, like that of DARPA, will become evident only with time. But it will become evident.