From Barracks to the Battlefield: Clean Energy Innovation and America’s Armed Forces, report from the Pew Charitable Trusts’ Project on National Security, Energy and Climate, Department of Defense spending for renewables and efficiency went from $400 million in 2006 to $1.2 billion in 2009, a jump of 300 percent. The DoD is now planning the world’s largest rooftop solar initiative at 124 bases as well as a groundbreaking 500-megawatt CSP project at Fort Irwin in California. DoD spending is expected to be almost 15 percent of the microgrid market in 2013 and to reach $1.6 billion per year by 2020. In August, a $510Million joint investment from the Navy and the Departments of Energy and Agriculture was designated for the building and retrofitting of advanced biofuels plants and refineries by 2014.
Meanwhile in South Korea, electronics giant Samsung has announced a strategic growth initiative into multiple new technologies. In solar energy Samsung plans to make panels for both consumer and industrial use. Producing panels for “utility-scale” projects may allow it to lower prices for the residential market. Is Samsung wrong? As the Economist noted, “In 2000 Samsung started making batteries for digital gadgets. Ten years later it sold more of them than any other company in the world. In 2001 it threw resources into flat-panel televisions. Within four years it was the market leader. In 2002 the firm bet heavily on “flash” memory. The technology it delivered made the iPhone and iPad a reality, and made Samsung Apple’s biggest supplier—and now its biggest hardware competitor.”
So while the gas and oil bought and paid for GOP harps on the failure of Solyndra and offers no long term energy plan other than “Drill baby drill”, our nation’s largest consumer of energy and the world’s most successful electronics company are embarking on renewable energy strategic plans. It is imperative that the U.S. supports and nurtures renewable and alternative energy resources, not only during the innovation and incubation stages, but during scale up and high volume manufacturing. It does us no good to innovate and then allow China to undercut us on the manufacturing side and we lose out on potential jobs for our citizens.
It’s simple: support emerging technologies and push back on those that seek to undercut us.