Advanced Energy and US National Security
CNA | June 2017 | CNA Military Advisory Board
It is undeniable that the global energy landscape is changing. Burgeoning populations in South Asia and Africa, together with rising affluence, are shifting major centers of demand away from Europe and the U.S. and increasing the world’s overall demand for energy. At the same time, new technologies are making clean, affordable advanced energy widely available as well as allowing the extraction of fossil fuels from previously inaccessible sources. We see this combination of rising energy demand and the growing number of affordable energy choices as a tectonic shift in the global energy posture, one likely to impact every nation.As new energy options emerge to meet global demand, nations that lead stand to gain; should the U.S. sit on the sidelines, it does so at considerable risk to our national security.
In this report, we provide the Administration, Congress, and other Federal and State policymakers our assessment, observations, and recommendations concerning the national security impacts of a transition to advanced energy systems. President Trump’s commitment to “promote clean and safe development of our Nation’s vast energy resources,” his acknowledgment that “the prudent development of these natural resources is essential to ensuring the Nation’s geopolitical security,” and his recognition that it is “in the national interest to ensure that the Nation’s electricity is affordable, reliable, safe, secure, and clean, and that it can be produced from coal, natural gas, nuclear material, flowing water, and other domestic sources, including renewable sources” provides opportunity for today’s emerging advanced energy technologies to play a critical role in meeting these goals.
The U.S. government should develop a comprehensive national energy strategy that promotes energy independence and U.S. engagement and leadership in the advanced energy future. Our recent discoveries in unconventional oil and gas provide the U.S. with newfound access to hydrocarbons, while advanced energy affords an even greater range of domestic energy options. Policymakers should review and update existing legal and regulatory frameworks, embracing advanced energy and its contribution to clean, secure energy independence. This includes encouraging energy efficiency and energy management–key components of advanced energy–to reduce overall energy demand.
The national security challenges and opportunities of the evolving global energy landscape, including advanced energy transition, should be fully integrated into national security and national defense strategies. The U.S. Departments of Defense, Commerce, Homeland Security, Energy, and State, as well as Congress and the Administration, must recognize that the transition to a new global energy posture with advanced energy systems is already occurring, with national security implications that are consequential and wide ranging. Policies should be updated accordingly.
The U.S. should identify and leverage global opportunities that will arise during the transition to advanced energy, especially in fast-growing India and Africa. The U.S. should use energy as a tool of diplomacy to secure our relationships with strategically important allies who would benefit from advanced energy deployment. The technological expertise gained will be invaluable to both emerging and advanced economies, and will provide great opportunity for U.S. businesses. The transition provides a vehicle for advancing stability, democratizing energy access, and supporting economic development in energy-hungry parts of the world.
The Department of Defense should identify, embrace, and deploy advanced energy technologies where they improve the effectiveness of military operations. The Services, the Combatant Commands, and the Joint Staff should continue to explore how advanced energy technologies can improve mission outcomes. DOD should more fully explore energy logistics risks through wargaming and analyses; expand energy performance in requirements for future systems; and invest in research, development, and deployment of advanced energy technologies that offer operational advantages. DOD should pursue innovations in advanced energy for its installations with equal commitment, looking at all alternatives for improving resilience and energy security while reducing energy costs, and including partnering with surrounding communities.
The U.S. should take a leadership role in the transition to advanced energy. The federal government should stimulate investment in the basic and applied sciences to spur innovation. It should reduce or share the risk of private investment in largescale advanced energy projects, and double-down on investment and research for large-scale energy storage options. It should also spur education and workforce development to support a transition to advanced energy. Finally, the U.S. must design, develop, build, and install advanced energy systems at home. This will maintain our global leadership role in energy innovation and enable us to help set the trajectory of the advanced energy transition.