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
Climate change threatens the safety and security of billions of people around the world. But we can build more secure, resilient and peaceful communities, countries, and systems by eliminating dependence on fossil fuels and aging centralized energy infrastructure, and shifting toward clean, distributed renewable energy sources today.
Dependence on fossil fuels and centralized electricity infrastructures puts countries at risk, and fuels war and conflict. We can stabilize nations and protect communities with clean, distributed energy resources.
Reducing Reliance on Foreign Oil
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.
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
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
Minigrids for Reliable Power 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.
Redefining Resilience for Islands
In partnership with the Institute for Competitiveness and Sustainable Economy for Puerto Rico (ICSE-PR), RMI led a collaborative process convening over 40 diverse stakeholders, with the goal of providing a vision and policy and regulatory recommendations for Puerto Rico's future energy system. RMI's Islands Energy Program currently supports more than a dozen island nations to plan, develop, and install the renewable energy systems that will prepare them for the future.
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 Radhika Lalit discusses how in the wake of a devastating hurricane season, America's cities can place resilience goals at the core of their rebuilding efforts with innovative and cost-effective policies and financing mechanisms.
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.