Defense should do more to spur energy innovation, report says

The Defense Department can play a stronger role in the commercialization of clean, low-carbon energy, according to a new report by the military advisory board of the Center for Naval Analysis.

The CNA report, the third in a series linking the nation's energy profile to national security, reinforces the widely accepted idea that reducing the military's and the nation's reliance on petroleum will improve security and economic competitiveness.

"Continued overreliance on fossil fuels will increase the risks to America's future economic prosperity and will thereby diminish the military's ability to meet the security challenges of the rapidly changing global strategic environment," the report said.

"By taking bold leadership actions now, the nation can turn the growing energy and economic challenges into great opportunity," the board concluded.

The advisory board made a number of recommendations, including that the department partner with the private sector to establish an Operational Energy Innovation Center. Such a center could help bridge the "information and communication barriers, largely related to the size disparity of the organizations, [that] impede such collaboration," the report said.

The report also recommended senior Defense and Energy department officials share information on energy-related research and development in a more structured way and create formal organizational relationships between the departments.

Joseph Sikes, director of facilities energy at Defense, said the Pentagon and Energy signed a comprehensive memorandum of understanding late last month that establishes an undersecretary-level working group to coordinate research and development efforts at the departments.

Under the MOU, Defense and Energy essentially will create an inventory of what each department is doing to avoid duplication. In addition, the agreement creates the framework to use Defense installations as test beds for research conducted at Energy laboratories, Sikes said during a Government Executive leadership briefing July 27.

"Obviously, the Department of Energy has lot of research and lots of data and lots of ways to build good buildings, and we have lots of buildings we need to build," he said. "And so matching those two things up is going to be important."

The CNA report also urged Defense to revise its installation acquisition strategy to incentivize the purchase of clean energy products. It noted the existing mechanisms for improving energy efficiency -- Energy Savings Performance Contracts and the Energy Conservation Investment Program -- support the purchase of older, well-established energy technologies at the expense of newer, more innovative technologies.

"DoD should mitigate the financial risk to energy providers that experiment with cutting-edge energy technologies by guaranteeing a minimum return on investment commensurate with what would be returned by mature and aging technologies," the report said.

"In addition, the ECIP program should be directed to give first preference to the energy technologies that are emerging on the market from federal energy-related research and development programs," the board stated.

Shannon Cunniff, director of chemical and material risk management at Defense, said department officials are assessing ways to inculcate energy-use goals in the acquisition process. In remarks at the July 27 leadership briefing, Cunniff said: "We're working on those, and we're also trying to figure out if we need new Defense [or] federal acquisition regulations to clarify some of these things and give people the toolset that they need to make these better decisions."

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.