“If Virginia takes a leadership role (in clean energy initiatives), we can make changes,” said Virginia State Senator Frank Wagner during his remarks at the recent Clean Energy Event at the Hampton Roads Chamber (HRCC). Business leaders from around the area attended the event, cosponsored by the HRCC and The Chambers for Innovation and Clean Energy, to hear speakers Captain Leo Goff, Center for Naval Analyses and State Senator Frank Wagner discuss clean energy initiatives in the Department of Defense and the state of Virginia.
“I have a hard time thinking we’ll be using gas in 30 years,” said Goff as he recounted the changes in primary energy sources over the last hundred years. Today 25% of the Navy is powered by nuclear reactors, but the country only started using nuclear power in 1950. Progress is continual and “we are on the precipice of a revolution in energy,” said Goff. Goff discussed solar power and alternative energy changes, as well as the future of the electric vehicle. Goff estimates that by 2030 more than half of the miles driven in the United States will be powered by electric vehicles as the cost of batteries continues to decrease to rival the cost of petroleum. The military is at the crux of the energy revolution, according to Goff. Fort Drum in New York powers 90% of their base off renewable energy, and the Navy has a goal to reach 50% renewable energy by 2020, having already hit previous energy goals in the past.
Renewable energy is the way of the future, but as Wagner pointed out, “it’s all going to come from planning the system properly so we can fix the issues of today and plan for tomorrow.” Senator Wagner agreed with pushing for renewable energy in Virginia, “as a policy decision it’s a good idea to integrate,” he said, noting that “if we’re going to integrate we need to work with localities.” Virginia has the technology and science to create solar energy and feed it into the grid, but doing so with the blessing of the localities and without disrupting the economy is a challenge. “We’ve got to think about incremental steps forward,” said Wagner.
Those incremental steps include actions that business and the DOD can take as well as the small changes individuals can make in their daily lives. “The energy solution is a shot gun shell,” said Wagner, “one of these pellets [in that shell] is conservation. Easy things like using LED light bulbs and addressing the losses you don’t see, like the energy you lose through the windows and doors. The solution is education. If people knew [what to do] they’d make the right move.”
Pictured from left to right: (Ira Agricola, Executive Vice President, Government Affairs Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce; Ryan Hodum, Chambers for Innovation and Clean Energy; Captain Leo Goff, Center for Naval Analyses; State Senator Frank Wagner.)