NATO seminar highlights smart energy projects

  • Last updated: 07 Mar. 2012 09:03

With the international financial crisis affecting the defence budgets of Allies in unprecedented ways, a sustained effort must be made to spend limited resources more effectively and efficiently.

PowerFOB trials in Cyprus using a varierty of renewable energies to provide power to Forward Operating Bases.

To support NATO’s efforts in this regard, the Emerging Security Challenges Division and the Public Diplomacy Division organised a seminar on Monday, 5 March 2012 focusing on ways to use existing smart energy technology in a military setting. Speakers from several NATO member nations highlighted their experiences with the practical application of smart energy solutions to reduce fossil fuel consumption in their respective militaries.

Smart energy and smart defence

The financial and security cost of providing energy for the military can be high. With budgetary constraints forcing national defence establishments to rethink their way of doing business, energy efficiency is an important topic for political and military leaders alike. “The scarcity of traditional energy resources coupled with the current ‘cash crunch’ is a concern to every Ally,” said Ambassador Audrius Bruzga, Director of the Energy Security Centre in Lithuania.

Ambassador Gábor Iklódy, NATO Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges, stressed that wisely utilizing energy resources is not just a matter of saving money in cash strapped times, but also a strategic imperative.

“Our defence budgets are under tremendous pressure, and they will remain under pressure for the foreseeable future. If we don’t take action, we risk the decline of NATO's military competence, and thus the decline of our ability to shape the strategic environment in line with our values and interests,” he said during his opening speech.

By making NATO forces more energy efficient, smart energy represents a timely contribution to smart defence. “Smart defence without smart energy won’t fly. By design and by definition these two are bound to go together,” emphasized Ambassador Bruzga.

Smart energy is common sense

During the seminar, five speakers from Canada, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States highlighted innovative ways to deliver low-cost, effective solutions to reduce dependence on fossil fuels.

The presentations explored the economic and environmental benefits of the use of bio-fuels, alternative energy options in hot and cold environments, various ways to save energy in the short term such as the use enhanced insulation and low power accommodations, and identified sustainable electrical power alternatives to fossil fuels, including wind, solar, geothermal, and hydro and heat pump technologies, among others.

Although the seminar primarily looked at ways to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, it was not the sole focus. “Saving fuel is our key concern, but it is not our only challenge. We also need to protect the environment,” said Ambassador Iklódy.

“There is no denying that our armed forces are large polluters, and it is in our collective interest that we make every effort to reduce their environmental impact. This is not a matter of political correctness. It is a matter of common sense,” he said.