Suzanne on Marketplace — NPR

Photo pro­vided by the US Navy

I helped out with this piece by Marketplace’s Scott Tong that aired on August 31st, 2011. Mil­i­tary fund­ing spurs clean-tech innovation

“As the Pen­ta­gon looks to cut oil use, its efforts are giv­ing a boost to start-up tech­nol­ogy that could one day go mainstream.”

SUZANNE HUNT: Some­one has to pay for those expen­sive test batches. It’s very sim­i­lar to what the mil­i­tary did with cell phones and com­puter chips. They were the ones that bought the big, clunky, super expen­sive first model.

And they may play a big cul­tural role in the new energy econ­omy. Hunt says just as the mil­i­tary was an early insti­tu­tion to deseg­re­gate — sol­diers, sailors, Marines and air­men are now early adopters of renewables.

HUNT: They bring that knowl­edge and that expe­ri­ence back to their com­mu­ni­ties. And they tend not to be the same com­mu­ni­ties as one often things of — Sil­i­con Val­ley, Man­hat­tan — what­ever peo­ple think of with clean tech.

As for alter­na­tive fuels, the mil­i­tary has a lot rid­ing on it. The Air Force, Navy and Marines all hope to cut their fos­sil fuel use in half. But, is the tech­nol­ogy ready? Is now the right time to bet on it?

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