The national power grid faces a large number of threats including, natural disasters; cyber-physical security threats from state and non-state actors; and aging infrastructure. As such, grid resilience should be considered a national security concern. Most often, the detection and prevention of cyber-physical threats is a main priority due to the evolving and technological nature of the threat matrix. However, it is not the only factor in implementing grid security.
The Department of Defense (DoD) began working on improving grid resilience by creating clean energy and microgrid installations to support military bases across the U.S. This was done by shifting from the old natural gas turbines and diesel generators to a diverse energy supply that includes renewables and battery storage. This approach to grid resilience has not only saved the DoD in maintenance costs, but it is also in line with the National Defense Strategy, which states that the DoD’s priority in terms of energy security is “ensure the readiness of the armed forces by pursuing energy security and energy resilience.” This shift has in turn been reflected in the individual branches. For example, Otis Air National Guard Base has implemented a wind-powered microgrid that is fitted with a 1.6 MW/1.2 MWh UltraBattery, which allows the system to generate greater power for longer periods of time. This micro-grid is able to power the entire installation for upwards of 120 hours in the event of an outage.
Overall, the energy initiatives of the DoD have become a priority due to the wide array of threats facing the national power grid. While cyber and physical threats will continue to play a large role in funding priorities for the federal government, the DoD has also partnered with local, state, and private entities to address renewable energy projects. The investment into renewables that the DoD is pursuing shows how important renewable energy sources are in providing a diverse energy supply to our grid. The intersection of clean energy and security will not only serve to benefit public and private sector interests but it will also better secure our energy infrastructure.
Like many industries and technologies before it, the national electrical grid is receiving a much needed influx of R&D and investment in the interest of national security. The success of the DoD in the regard indicates the resilience potential of the entire national power grid if given the proper resources.