Michael Wu, special assistant, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Installations, Environment, and Energy, explains why his team at e-Lab Accelerator is investigating clean energy approaches to resilience.
Security and Resilience
For decades, war and instability have been fueled by cheap, abundant oil. But we can build a more secure and peaceful world by eliminating dependence on oil, and shifting toward clean, distributed renewable energy sources today.
Dependence on oil and centralized electricity infrastructures puts countries at risk, and fuels war and conflict. We can stabilize nations with clean, distributed energy resources.
Reducing Reliance on Foreign Oil
Goal: Save 2 billion barrels of oil each year by 2030
Personal vehicles use more than 25 percent of all oil consumed in the U.S. By working with U.S. cities to implement more convenient, accessible, affordable, safe, and clean mobility systems, we can save two billion barrels of oil—minimizing our foreign energy dependence—each year by 2030. We are doing this with innovative Mobility-as-a-Service business models, fleet electrification, and the introduction of autonomous cars.
Girl infant of wind turbines
Enabling a Secure Electricity System
Goal: Shift away from a centralized, fossil fuel-powered grid toward a distributed, renewable future where clean energy sources generate 80% of U.S. electricity by 2050
For the past century, we’ve generated electricity by burning coal and natural gas in big, central power plants. We send that electricity over transmission lines to homes, businesses, data centers, and factories. But this era of centralized electricity generation is coming to an end. We are making an affordable, low-carbon, decentralized electricity grid a near-term reality by helping large companies invest in renewable energy, helping utilities develop new business models to incorporate more distributed renewable energy, and making solar energy affordable and accessible to all income groups.
Improving Military Resiliency with Efficiency and Microgrids
U.S. military dependence on fossil fuels poses a huge national security threat to our military overseas and at home. For this reason, a 2016 e-Lab Accelerator team focused on energy efficiency and renewable energy microgrids for the military. The Air Force Energy Assurance team’s goal is to secure competitively priced and reliable electricity for critical mission areas. The team—composed of experts in facility management, operations, defense, and energy and environment—stresses the role that projects like these play in broader resilience and security efforts across the military.
The Byron Rogers Federal Building, courtesy of the GSA
Improving Performance of Federal Facilities
Goal: Support the Department of Energy and General Services Administration to increase the level of energy savings achieved in retrofit projects, driving toward a 40 percent energy-use reduction, and toward more net-zero energy.
U.S. federal buildings represent the largest aggregate building portfolio in the world, accounting for billions of square feet in real estate. They not only provide space for hundreds of thousands of employees to provide critical services to our country, they also represent a significant opportunity to support mission effectiveness and infrastructure resilience. RMI serves as a contractor for leading federal agencies providing strategic advising with on-the-ground execution support to meet and exceed these important goals with no cost to taxpayers.
Photo credit: Irene Angwenyi / USAID Kenya
Growing the Minigrid Market in Africa
Many businesses and communities in sub-Saharan Africa are powered by diesel generators, when they are powered at all. Power is unreliable and intermittent. But as a growing number of projects show, businesses can receive more secure and reliable power from a local minigrid, an isolated distribution network powered by solar and battery storage. And it’s not just local businesses that are receiving power; residential customers are connecting to the minigrid, too, and hundreds more will connect over the next few years. This approach not only provides energy security, but also drives economic growth in rural areas, and is being replicated across sub-Saharan Africa and southern Asia.
Who’s Joining us to Make a Difference
Our bold partners and supporters span government entities, innovators in the electricity sector driving improved system resilience, and municipalities, automakers, technology providers, and new market entrants who are reducing our oil dependence. For example, we are working with the cities of Austin, Texas and Denver, Colorado to pilot Mobility-as-a-Service solutions that cut millions of barrels of oil use from personal cars.
Austin’s collaboration with RMI isn’t just helping us develop innovative mobility solutions. RMI is helping us innovate the way our city imagines the possibilities in the first place, which is absolutely critical as we move from an unworkable status quo toward a future that no American city has yet reached
‐Steve Adler, Mayor of Austin, Texas
Stories from the Field
RMI associate Kelly Carlin describes his recent trip to Sierra Leone working with local leaders to test the region's first minigrid, providing reliable access to clean, renewable power for the first time.
RMI's Matt Junclaus explains a future in which our buildings are resilient, self-powered, community resources; and thanks to current programs that idea is not so far fetched.
Resilience—in its many forms and descriptions—was a core motivator for diverse teams to take on innovative and complex projects. It’s why many of them sought the help of e-Lab Accelerator.
Your support can move economies off oil and centralized electricity infrastructure, improving stability and resilience globally and locally.