The Pentagon needs more electricity to protect its forces

The Pentagon’s push for electric vehicles and weapons systems faces a dilemma in which China controls the world’s lion’s share of lithium-ion battery production for those systems.

A panel of security experts speaking in an online forum last week raised this issue, saying the expansion of US military forces around the world requires more electrical power to protect against attacks.” long-range,” noting that the Pentagon must find alternative means. energy distribution, as current methods are expensive.

This comes as the US military has start a “massive push towards electric vehicles” and electrically powered laser weapon systems.

Mobile nuclear reactor

Heather Pennysenior researcher at the Mitchell Institute of the Air Force Association, gave an example of mobile truck-mounted nuclear reactors under Pele Projectwhich supply the batteries of remote operating bases.

The panelists agreed with his suggestion and added that the mobile reactors should be kept hidden and a safer distance from the enemy’s reach.

Seeking “breakthrough” in battery production

The former deputy commander of Army Futures Command, Lt. Gen. Eric Wesley estimated that the army would take 30 years to switch to electric vehicles, during which time, he estimated, the availability of the conventional internal combustion engine would become problematic, as the supply chain would have to meet the demand of both types of engines.

Panelists also advised the Pentagon to look beyond current energy contractors in an effort to find a “breakthrough” in battery technologies.

“How do you incentivize program offices…to pursue an electrified option,” director of the Hudson Center for Defense Concepts and Technology Bryan Clark asked rhetorically. He suggested, with Wesley, the creation of a pilot program at the DoD to research alternative energy suppliers.

“Sometimes we really have to be pushed,” Wesley said.

Global control of battery production in China

According to a To analyse per BloombergNEF, China controlled 73% of global lithium battery manufacturing capacity in 2019, followed by the United States at 12%.

By 2025, the research body predicts that global lithium battery production capacity will nearly quadruple (from 316 gigawatt hours (GWh) to 1,211 GWh), with a relative decline in the US share of total production .