Pentagon Pull In Energy Innovation

Will it be the Pentagon’s purchasing power and needs that provide the impetus for the energy technology innovation we need to solve the energy and greenhouse gas problems? Dan Sarewitz, in this week’s Nature, argues thus (sub req I think):

F404 Navy jet engine being tested running on biofuel

F404 Navy jet engine being tested running on biofuel

DOD’s infrastructure includes 500 fixed installations (some the size and complexity of small cities), 546,000 buildings and other structures and 160,000 non-tactical vehicles.

Combine these numbers with the fact that no institution on Earth has anything close to the DOD’s buying power and technical capabilities, and it’s hard not to conclude … that the Pentagon has the capacity to become the world’s most important weapon in the fight to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.

The Pentagon has full life cycle responsibility for all sorts of infrastructure, from buildings to vehicles, and has enormous efficiency incentives, Sarewitz argues:

National security, climate change and energy economics are convergent rationales that provide the DOD with a potentially huge institutional advantage over other energy innovators. A litre of petrol transported along highly vulnerable supply lines to Afghanistan costs an average of about $100. Enhancing the energy independence of forward-base operations in combat zones — to save lives and money — is thus a powerful short-term incentive for energy-technology innovation in everything from building insulation to fuel efficiency for jeeps, tanks and jets, to renewable power generation and storage. The price at which new technologies make economic and strategic sense is enormously higher than what the energy market — or any plausible cap-and-trade or energy tax scheme — would allow.


  1. Hi,

    John, you need to change the links for Quark Soup and Rpjr.

    Of course, you could be going for the Stoat dead link society prize….


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