The military is no stranger to innovation, recently even taking a page out of Silicon Valleyâ€™s book. And over the past 10Â years itâ€™s been gradually increasing its adoption of renewable power, after it vowed to produce or procure 25 percent of all of its energy from clean sources.
Now Reuters reports that senior military officials intend to â€œforge ahead under the new administration with a decade-long effort to convert its fuel-hungry operations to renewable power.â€ That might be easier than ever, given PresidentÂ Trumpâ€™s recent promise to commit an extra $54 billion to defense spending.
At first blush, it also seemingly flies in the face of what the president likely thinks the money should be spent on to improve national security.
But military officials argue to Reuters that this shift to renewables isnâ€™t really motivated by a desire to save the planet, but to make systems more efficient, safe, and robust. For instance,Â an Army facility running on renewables would be immune to grid attacks; a hybrid tank doesnâ€™t need to stop to refuel as often; and in war zones a solar panel canâ€™t explode like a tank of gas.
The news comes, of course, at a time when other federal organizations face funding cuts as a direct result of Trumpâ€™s desire to boost military spending. Both ARPA-E, which was set up to fund research into audacious new energy technologies, and the Environmental Protection Agency are bracing for massive upheavalâ€”or potentially even closure.
Itâ€™s unlikely that the DoDâ€™s investment will give rise to new clean energy technologies of the sort that might be kick-started by ARPA-E. But some military innovations do spillÂ out into the public domain, and the scale of its investment will go some way to further pushing down the cost of renewables.
So at least a small slice of the funding cut from federal departments dedicated to saving the planet will be channeled toward renewablesâ€”whether it was the presidentâ€™s intention or not.
(Read more: Reuters, â€œThe Pentagonâ€™s Innovation Experiment,â€ â€œThe EPA Is Bracing for Big Change,â€ â€œWill ARPA-E Survive Trumpâ€™s Looming Budget Cuts?â€)
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