How the defense sector can play its part in Energy efficiency

EDA and NATO parallel actions for a more efficient use of energy

Schermata 2016-01-16 alle 18.44.06♦   For each gallon of fuel to Afghanistan up to 4 gallons are consumed for transport.
♦   In a typical military camp, 60-70% of fuel is used to produce electricity to heat/cool water or air.
♦   Today, a soldier carries an average of 7 different batteries weighing 8 kg (plus reserves).



EDA Energy and Environment Programme

Energy savings can be beneficial to Defence, and Defence may give a great contribute to the climate. This was the message that emerged during the opening session of the “Consultation Forum for sustainable energy in the defence and security” organized by the European Commission and the European Defence Agency (EDA) on 14-15 Jan 2015.

Experts from the national administrations, academia and industry discussed how to improve energy efficiency in the use of civilian military buildings and logistics, in accordance with the EU directives on energy and climate (the Directive on Energy Efficiency, the Energy Performance of Buildings for the construction and the Renewable Energy).

European Commissioner for Climate and Energy, Miguel Arias Cañete introduced the conference. “Promote sustainability in the armed forces is a win-win approach for the defence sector, he said, and Europe as a whole.” In fact the armed forces can reduce expenses in energy and would benefit of a greater “availability of resources to key objectives from the operational point of view”,

The annual costs of energy consumption in the Armed Forces is one billion euro “and that they are” the wider public owner of infrastructure”.

“To reach the target set in the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, i.e. 40% of reduction in emissions by 2030 – the Commissioner said – we need a change in the way energy is consumed even in the Armed Forces”. “We think the restructuring of buildings as barracks, offices, military hospitals, etc. covered by the Directive on Energy Efficiency, ” a Spanish speaker said and he proposed the applications of ‘dual use’ techniques, and the use of bio-fuels in ships to reduce the environmental impact of maritime surveillance of the coast guard.” A Smart Financing, he added, with “the revision of the Directive on energy performance” could help to speed up the renewal fees for inefficient construction to more than 2% per annum.” In conclusion, said Cañete, “the Forum is a great opportunity for all the participating countries” and “the defense sector has the potential to become important drivers for the future of clean energy and climate.”

Jorge Domecq, Executive Director of EDA, has emphasized that “for the first time the Commission is funding a specific topic of Defense.” Domecq spoke about the “energy challenges” concerning the armed forces, illustrating the benefits of a more efficient management of energy would lead to the sector.

Specifically, he made reference to a “saving lives, since the energy supply, is a major point of vulnerability for the staff” but also to “benefits from the economic point of view, views the current budget constraints and increasing costs for the supply of aircraft and ships vehicles “and yet, the” energy resilience and autonomy “, considering the risks arising from political instability that persists.

In conclusion, said the Executive Director of EDA “we hope that cooperation in the field of energy will continue to grow” because “based on a shared understanding we can maximize the benefits and mitigate the risks.”

The Forum will unravel over the course of a series (5) of plenary meetings over the next two years. The work will be carried out in three parallel working groups each with a specific focus on Energy Management, Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiencies.

EDA’s Energy and Environment Programme, started in 2014, aims to support Member States Armed Forces’ journey towards a low-carbon, sustainable future. Centred on four main themes: Data Collection & Analysis, Energy Efficiency, Alternative Energy, and Defence Sustainability, the programme identifies and builds a portfolio of activity that spans the capability, armaments and research & technology perspectives with a view to sharing best practice and enabling collaborative activity wherever possible.

Project goals

For the 2015 period, the programme’s outputs have been prioritised by its working group members and include the following goals:

  • Examine opportunities to reduce fuel and energy consumption on operations for sea, land and air capabilities.
  • Assess the impact of future energy policy and new technologies on military capability and develop adaptation strategies.
  • Disseminate best practice for the development of alternative energy facilities at military sites.
  • Identify areas of common interest in the energy and environmental fields that would benefit from a collaborative approach.


NATO Smart Energy

NATO has also taken survey and measures to identify weaknesses in their logistics when it comes to energy and the equipment that uses it. NATO also sees the need for a leaner, greener supply line in the fuel and electricity-centric modern combat.

Both during the Chicago Summit in 2012 and the Wales Summit in 2014, NATO agreed to work towards “significantly improving the energy efficiency of our military forces”. Adopted in February of 2014, NATO’s “Green Defence” framework looks to reduce the energy consumption of military camps and vehicles, saving energy in exercises and operations, and developing energy efficient standards and procedures alongside SENT.

In January 2013, the SPS (NATO’s Science for Peace and Security) funded Smart Energy Team (or SENT) started their mission to explore efficient energy solutions. The team screened defense documentation and visited defense agencies to identify practical energy efficient solutions and provide recommendations for the standards and best practices of NATO.

They finished their study in May 2015 and reached similar conclusions to independent study in the United States: reducing fuel consumption was an operation imperative. Not only would the reduction of fuel demand reduce spending (in line with NATO’s Smart Defence initiative), but more importantly would increase mobility, resilience, and endurance of NATO forces in field and save lives by exposing less resupply convoys. Many ways have and are currently being explored.

“In the context of its Smart Energy Team, NATO has begun to explore more efficient energy solutions for cooling and heating tents, including adjustable load generators, heat pumps, floor heating and materials for insulation and for storing generated energy and solar energy,” said the Head of the Energy Security Section in NATO’s Emerging Security Challenges Division, Michael Ruhle.

Capable Logistician (CL) is a NATO standardization and interoperability Field Training Exercise that occurs every other year to overcome interoperability challenges between coalition forces in battlefield environments. The CL has also become a test bed for Smart Energy solutions. In the 2015 exercises over 50 pieces of equipment for Smart Energy production, storage, distribution, and consumption – as well as soldier power – was used to respond to the scenarios and assess interoperability.

 “All in all, in financial as well as security terms, our fuel dependency creates a ‘lose-lose’ situation.  The more one looks at this dilemma, the more one understands why Alexander the Great was so obsessed with logistics.  He once said that if his campaign were to fail, the first people he would slay would be his logisticians,” said Ambassador Gábor Iklódy, NATO’s Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges.

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