In an era of uncertain supply chains and depleting supplies of fossil fuels, the US Department of Defense has been left in an equally uncertain place. With the US Air Force being the biggest gas-guzzler in the department, AFWERX (the USAF technology accelerator) has announced the “Reimagining Energy Challenge” for the Department of Defense on 15th October.
In the official Air Force release, Col. Charles Bris-Bois, of the Air Force Disruptive Technology Team, was quoted as saying:
“The disruption of the energy sector is already happening. There’s unbelievable innovation occurring in how we produce, transmit and store energy. The DOD must partner with those leading this disruption in both industry and academia, to ensure we maintain our competitive advantage, “
Hoping to gather proposals from academia, the public sector and from private American and allied companies, AFWERX is seeking proposals that will cover six vital energy areas:
- Permanent & Mobile Energy Generation
- Energy Transmission & Distribution
- Mobile & Fixed Energy Storage
- New Warfighting & Operational Equipment Not Dependent on Fossil Fuels
- Data Availability for Improved Planning & Decision Making
- Energy Culture, Policy & Education
It is worth considering that the program doesn’t just mean energy transformation for the Department of Defense but rather for the US as a whole. By moving beyond just purely military issues such as warfighting equipment and hoping to affect elements such as energy policy and distribution of energy, the program is bound to make an impact on the entire US energy sector.
Global warming is also a key issue highlighted by AFWERX in its promotional material, unsurprising when considering that in 2017 the US Army War College published a report stating that:
“The Department of Defense (DoD) is precariously unprepared for the national security implications of climate change-induced global security challenges”
However, what exactly the new energy challenge will mean for American defense and the country as a whole remains to be seen.