Military experts meet with Reno leaders in advance of Clean Energy Summit

Published: Oct. 12, 2017 at 3:55 PM PDT
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Two military experts made a stop in Reno in advance of this years National Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas. Lt. Gen. Richard Zilmer spend more than three decades in the United States Marine Corps. Now he serves on the Military Advisory Board for the Center for Naval Analyses. More and more, renewable resources are becoming part of the conversation when it comes to the issues of national security.

"I spent 2006-2007 in Iraq and clearly many of our casualties were caused by moving these convoys many miles over distributed battlefields," Zilmer said. "Half of those convoys were diesel fuel to run generators, to run tools, to run refrigeration, the things that a modern day Army and Marine Corps need to be successful."

Battlefield requirements have changed over the years.

"The average soldier required one gallon of fuel per day to fuel the operations of a soldier in WWII," Zilmer said. "Today its more like 22 gallons of fuel per person per day so that's kind of the burden of the cost. You've got this great military but what we're about is trying to be lighter, faster and more lethal on the battlefield of the future, and not being tethered to those fuels we've required to do our job in the past."

As the modern battlefield changes, so are the tools that supply it.

"The Navy, for example, is building hybrid ships simply for the purpose of saving fuel and reducing the vulnerability that always is attendant to resupply and refuel at sea," said Vice Adm. Lee Gunn, a Navy veteran who is also on the CNA Military Advisory Board. "Military aircraft from the four services and the Coast Guard have been certified to fly on a mixture of biofuels and aviation fuel, so that will provide additional flight stability."

As national renewable initiatives move forward, states like Nevada are exploring more ways to capitalize on natural resources.

"Nevada, and Reno in particular, is a very progressive place with regard to understanding the advantages of the future energy system that we're going to go to," Gunn said. "I believe in capitalizing on it. That means regulatory reform, that means public/private investment in things that are good for Nevadans and I'm excited and enthusiastic about being here."

Governor Brian Sandoval and Senator Harry Reid will host the national Summit. It starts Friday morning.