With the threat of a double-dip recession looming large in investors’ minds and jobless rates still hanging around 9%, cleantech start-ups often find good news hard to come by. Internationally, markets continue to cycle through unpredictable volatility, while domestically the media tries to cast the stigma of the Solyndra Effect upon the cleantech subsidies as a whole - causing SolarCity like ripples to be felt throughout the industry. But like a beacon of “Energy Star” hope, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus announced last Sunday that the Defense Department has pledged to obtain 25% of its energy from renewable sources by 2025.
Considering how the US Department of Defense (DoD) is one of the world’s largest institutional energy consumers, investors and innovators alike have reason to stake a claim in greentech industries. According to the Washington Post, the DoD uses more than 300,000 barrels of oil daily, equivalent to what three-quarters of countries in the world use. Fossil fuel consumption combined makes up more than 80% of the DOD’s energy expenses, leaving an 80 percent-sized window of opportunity for alternative energy and clean tech innovations.
As detailed in the newly released "From Barracks to the Battlefield: Clean Energy Innovation and America’s Armed Forces" report from the Pew Charitable Trusts’ Project on National Security, Energy and Climate, DoD spending for renewables and efficiency went from $400 million in 2006 to $1.2 billion in 2009, a jump of 300 percent. – also an indicator of burgeoning growth.
Yet, despite these positive indicators, clean energy naysayers will be quick to remind us that this is not the first time the DoD has considered cleaner sources of fuel - so why should this time be any reason for change? Well, for starters, today’s energy theater is significantly different from the one that existed back when Bush energy talks were under way. With a new administration in place, the advent of the Arab Spring, and generally new outlooks on clean energy, there are new reasons for the DoD to invest in cleantech. In the words of Ray Mabus, “Both price volatility and supply predictability are strategic concerns since Navy operational flexibility and sustainability are linked directly to our access to energy.” The new dynamics of global geopolitics put money, the environment, and most importantly, an increasing number of lives at risk. Essentially, it’s the moral, monetary, and strategic advantages that alternative energies offer that make the shift in energy sourcing so attractive. And what better time to make the shift than now, a time when renaissance-like innovation is being advanced through start-ups?
With such bright hope on the horizon for cleantech, only one question should remain – how do I capitalize? Getting a product to market is no easy task, but OnGreen has sought to streamline the IP to ROI process by offering an online platform where investors, experts, and entrepreneurs can connect and go to market. Government subsidy and investment opportunities can be hard to navigate, but by connecting with experienced cleantech professionals at OnGreen.com, start-ups can quickly find ways to tap the vast pools of DoD investments.