Defense Department Gives ARPA-E Major Kudos

Sending a signal that investment in energy efficiency and innovation is a key to the future success of the U.S. military, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus said the Department of Defense (DOD) would “take advantage of early technology breakthroughs funded through the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (ARPA-E).”

Mabus, who has become something of a point man for the administration on moving the military forward on energy, made his remarks on the last day of the ARPA-E Summit. He said DOE would use technology from ARPA-E – a program that provides seed money to startups working on far-reaching clean-energy technologies – on two major initiatives that have as their ultimate goal protecting soldiers and making them more effective warriors.

U.S. military, energy efficiency, innovation

image via U.S. Navy

“On our ships, the ability to maintain steady, uninterrupted power, even if damaged, is absolutely critical for success. We need the ability to effectively store the energy we create – to be able to use it when it’s needed, and to use it where it’s needed,” Mabus said.

So the first project is to develop hybrid energy storage modules. Mabus sees these as vital in providing energy security for mobile units using alternative energy sources at sea and on the front lines.

The grid storage study, meanwhile, will provide information on how to “improve energy reliability, prevent disruption of service and improve energy security on the more than 500 DOD installations worldwide through large-scale storage of energy,” Mabus said.

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.