Energy, Water Resilience on Installations Critical to Operational Security

By C. Todd Lopez

WASHINGTON (May 20, 2021) -- The Defense Department's evaluation of new heat pump technology at a National Guard installation proved the technology viable and meant the department now has another tool to enhance energy security, said the deputy assistant secretary of defense for environment and energy resilience.

"We have a process in place to help commercialize new and emerging technologies and to prove that they are cost-effective and to encourage uptake across the department," Richard G. Kidd told lawmakers during a hearing before the Senate Appropriations Committee yesterday. "An air source heat pump, developed in the Department of Energy, in concert with the private sector, moved through our ESTCP/SERDP program, was demonstrated at the National Guard Armory in Maine where it worked during the extremes of winter, and was proven to be cost effective."

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The Environmental Security Technology Certification Program, or ESTCP, and Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program, or SERDP, take advantage of the latest science and technology to improve the department's environmental performance, reduce costs and enhance and sustain mission capabilities.

The department now encourages other installations to take advantage of that technology, Kidd said. As a result of the evaluation, the department is able to provide to those installations numbers that prove the technology's effectiveness.

"The department has a record of doing that," Kidd said. "We did that for ground-source heat pumps, ground-source batteries -- sort of like a heat-storage battery -- and a variety of other technologies," he said. "It's a good little program that works with DOE and the commercial sector to leverage the purchasing power of the department."

The evaluation of heat pump technology is just one way the Defense Department is working to enhance energy security and operational resilience against climate change, which Kidd called a critical national security issue and a threat multiplier.

"Climate change will continue to amplify operational demands on the force, degrade installations and infrastructure, increase health risks to our service members, and may require modifications to much of our existing or planned investment in equipment," he said.

In recent years, weather events such as Hurricane Michael in 2018, have cost the department billions of dollars in damage to installations.

"These costs are likely to increase as climate change accelerates," he told senators. "Not adapting to climate change, though, will be even more expensive, with failure measured not only in additional repair dollars, but also in terms of lost military capability, lower readiness, missed opportunities for technical innovation and economic growth."

Climate change isn't the only threat. Military installations, like the civilian communities that surround them, depend on energy and water to operate. Cyberattacks from adversaries can shut down the infrastructure that provides energy and water, rendering communities and military installations inoperable. The department must be resilient to such attacks to ensure continued operations.

"Enhancing energy and water resilience on our installations is essential to preserving our operational capabilities, regardless of the threat -- man-made or natural," Kidd said.

To be resilient to the effects of climate and the threats from adversaries, he said, the Defense Department is conducting climate assessments, updating directives at unified facilities, and building energy and water resilience plans at installations.

"The department's efforts to address climate change are directly aligned with and supportive of the department's overall efforts to ensure mission continuity and preserve resilience," he said.

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