The intertubes are a-buzzin’ with news about a new, super-expensive gas station in Afghanistan. To be clear, however, the gas station in question is actually a $43 million refueling station for CNG (compressed natural gas) vehicles, and not a gas station for conventional gasmobiles. As reported by our friends over at Vice, the Pentagon chewed through $43 million, almost none of which has been fully accounted for, to provide a few CNG vehicle drivers in Afghanistan with “the world’s most expensive gas station.”
$43 million sounds like a big number, sure, but the price tag might not come as much of a shock to those of you following the Pentagon’s increasingly fraught relationship with fossil fuels.
Back in 2009, a group of generals brought Congress up to date on the reality of a $400 per gallon price tag for fuel shipped to war zones, and since then military officials have tried — and mostly, failed — to draw public attention to the hundreds of avoidable casualties involved in fuel transportation for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Even so, battlefield casualties only tell part of the story. In 2012, CleanTechnica sat down with former Army Captain Jon Gensler, who described what happens to small communities here at home that lose their future civic leaders, when their “best and brightest” are killed defending fuel convoys overseas. You can catch the full picture in the new documentary The Burden, and in other Gas 2 articles like this one.
The moral and mortal consequences of fossil fuel dependency, along with the impacts of climate change and oil price spikes on military resources and global economic stability, have propelled the US armed services to the forefront of renewable energy adoption. In addition to integrating off-the-shelf technology into the field, the Defense Department’s various science offices in the Navy and Air Force are funding a good chunk of the cutting edge solar R&D covered by our sister site, CleanTechnica.
The military’s need for a tactical edge has been the driving force behind major fuel transitions throughout US history, from raw horsepower and wood to coal to oil, and now to renewable electricity. Aside from blips like the aforementioned gas station, veteran-supported projects like Envision’s portable EV charging stations are one of the many reasons why oil dependency needs to hurry up and take its place in the past.
Originally published by Cleantechnica.