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Task Force on Energy Systems for Forward/Remote Operating Bases

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Technical Report

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DEFENSE SCIENCE BOARD Washington United States

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Energy is a critical enabling component of military operations and demand for it will continue to increase over time. In particular, energy usage on the battlefield, at the tip of the spear, will likely increase significantly over the next few decades. Energy delivery and management is a problem and will continue to be a challenge. We recommend a number of ways that this can be significantly improved. Measures to increase the energy performance a term which includes consideration of energy efficiency in military platforms and base power systems can make a significant contribution to reducing demand for fuel for forward operating bases FOBs, remote operating bases ROBs, and expeditionary forces however, the high and growing energy needs of current and future military operations are likely to outpace improvements to energy efficiency and management, such that the defense sector is likely to be characterized by higher and higher energy demands. Energy intensive capabilities are under development for which there is no parallel development for power sources. We are at a pivot point. Longer term energy solutions should support sustainment of technical superiority. It is not just about basing, but warfighting capability enabled by the assured supply of energy. We have identified technologies with potential to meet this challenge of providing reliable, abundant, and continuous energy. Alternative energy technologies such as wind, tidal, solar and similar intermittent energy sources are unlikely to consistently meet current or future energy demands for FOBs, ROBs, and expeditionary forces, apart from very limited and highly specialized applications. The intermittent character of many alternative energy sources requires energy storage technology or redundant power supplies, and emerging technologies for improved energy storage do not appear able to keep pace with the growth of the DoDs energy needs.

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