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U.S. Should Not Surrender Clean Energy Technology to China, DOD Official Says

China has made it very clear that clean energy technology also results in geostrategic power, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for environment and energy resilience said. 

Passengers disembark an aircraft in low visibility, heavy snow environment
Antarctic Flight
Passengers exit an Air Force C-17 Globemaster III aircraft at McMurdo Station in Antarctica, Sept. 14, 2020. The aircraft and its crew ferried passengers and cargo between New Zealand and Antarctica in support of the 2020-21 Operation Deep Freeze mission.
Photo By: Courtesy Photo, 94th Airlift Wing – Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs
VIRIN: 200914-F-XX000-0001Q

Richard Kidd spoke today at the virtual GovExec 2022 Climate Summit. 

China has invested in a whole range of clean energy technologies, he said. "The United States cannot surrender that lead to any other country and expect to remain a preeminent global power." 

The Defense Department is investing in a range of technologies that will help keep pace with or stay out in front of China, technologies that will assist troops in contested operations, and technologies that will also mitigate or reduce greenhouse gas emissions, he said. 

The department only invests in clean energy technologies that will also have mission benefits, Kidd said. 

Clean Energy Technologies With Mission Benefits
Microgrids, solar power and batteries have dramatically helped reduce fuel deliveries in remote combat sites
Making aircraft more efficient through things like blended wing design to increase lift
Small nuclear power reactors might be used in the future for installation power
Research is being conducted in DOD on the use of lasers or directed-energy weapons systems
Longer term aspirations include power beaming, space-based power and robotic delivery of stored energy on the battlefield

"There's still a gap between where we want to be and the technology that we currently have. So there's going to have to be tremendous additional investment in technology," Kidd said, mentioning that DOD investments for mission success would likely have benefits to the U.S. commercial sector. 

For example, DOD has about 30% of the microgrid market and that can have positive spillover effects for industry and consumers, he said. 

A line of solar panels reflect the sun on a partly cloudy day.
Solar Array
A new 350 kilowatt-hour solar array was installed near the Hill Aerospace Museum at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, June 25, 2021. Rocky Mountain Power built the array and will own and operate it for the next 25 years as part of its Blue Sky program. The base will add the energy generated to its power grid.
Photo By: Cynthia Griggs, Hill Air Force Base
VIRIN: 210625-F-EF974-1004Q

In addition to new technologies, Kidd mentioned the adverse effects of climate change on troops, equipment and installations, whether from droughts, flooding or heatwaves. 

"We're playing a range of war games now where energy and climate are factored into the war games. The climate helps set the scenario and energy is contested," Kidd said, meaning under enemy attack.  

"We recognize that we will not be able to move energy in an unconstrained manner around the battlefield the way we've been able to do in the past," he added.

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