This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

May 09, 2007

Defense Department Hampered by its Fuel Dependence, says Report

A new report calls for the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to fundamentally change its approach to energy by incorporating energy considerations in its key decision-making processes, establishing a governance structure to focus DoD's energy efforts, and applying a structured framework to address energy efficiency and alternative energy sources in areas where the DoD faces its greatest energy challenges. The report, commissioned by DoD's Office of Force Transformation and Resources, points to four areas where energy needs are hampering DoD operations: aviation forces, which have the greatest fuel use; individual soldiers, who often carry heavy batteries that can lessen their effectiveness in the field; and forward land forces and mobile electric power sources, both of which create logistical problems because of their need for a support chain.

Photo of a fighter jet flying below a jumbo jet refueling vehicle, with a fuel line running between them.

A 2001 report found that delivering jet fuel by air tanker, as shown here, boosts its cost by a factor of 17. The report noted that the military did not account for the true cost of delivered fuel in its decision-making processes.
Credit: Darin Russell, U.S. Air Force

As noted in the report, DoD has difficulty achieving security for the United States while depending on foreign fuel supplies, particularly when those supplies come from nations that oppose U.S. goals. DoD is also pursuing greater mobility and agility for its forces, but the fuel supply chain hinders that goal. In addition, DoD is trying to cut operating costs, which is difficult to do as the price of energy escalates. The report suggests that DoD could cut its energy use by 3 percent per year, and if it did so through 2030, it would save $43 billion in energy costs. See the report, "Transforming the Way DoD Looks at Energy" (PDF 950 KB). Download Adobe Reader.

The report is not the first to examine the impacts of DoD's energy use. A 2001 report titled "More Capable Warfighting through Reduced Fuel Burden" noted that DoD acquisition processes did not value or emphasize fuel efficiency, despite significant benefits in terms of battle capabilities, logistics, and costs. At that time, DoD was typically paying about $1 per gallon for its fuel, but the cost of delivering fuel to a jet via tanker was actually $17.50 per gallon, and the cost of delivering fuel to Army forces in war zones was estimated at hundreds of dollars per gallon. See the report (PDF 1.2 MB).