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American Forces Press Service

DOD Perfectly Suited as Innovations Tester, Official Says

By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 5, 2011 – The Defense Department is in the best position to be the lead tester of innovations emerging in the energy conservation movement, just as it has been for other new technologies, the deputy undersecretary of defense for installations and environment said today.

“We are uniquely positioned to play a role as a test bed for next-generation technology,” Dorothy Robyn said at the annual Washington Ideas Forum here, sponsored by The Atlantic and the Newseum.

Pentagon leaders are committed to energy conservation and alternative fuels as a means of cost reductions and mission assurance, Robyn said during a panel discussion with corporate and think tank representatives on the “greening” of the Defense Department.

Robyn said the department’s role as a leader in the growing energy conservation movement maintains its long history as a tester of innovations, ranging from musket production to satellites and the Internet.

“We’ve been at the forefront of almost every technological wave,” she said.

DOD is the nation’s largest single user of energy, at a cost of $16 billion per year – three-fourths of which pays for fuel, Robyn said. Officials are focused on the costs – and ramifications – of supplying so much fuel into war zones, she said, but domestic fuel use also is a concern. The department spends about $4 billion each year to supply energy to its 300,000 buildings, she said.

“We are a big infrastructure owner, and we’re very inefficient,” she acknowledged.

But it’s the department’s size that allows it to test new technologies with less risk than other entities, providing great contribution in getting innovations into the marketplace, Robyn said. If the department fields 10 new technologies and five fail, it still is better off by having the five that work out, she said.

“Because DOD is so large, we say, ‘Let us take on that risk of testing,’” Robyn said. “It’s where the department can make the biggest contribution” to the green movement, she added.

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