A recent report from the Bipartisan Policy Center, Energy Innovation at the Department of Defense: Assessing the Opportunities, challenges the assumption that the DoD can function as a be-all-end-all driver of U.S. energy.

From the report: “DoD’s historical record on energy innovation is extraordinary, and there is reason to hope that important advances might come from a renewed effort in this area. But there also appear at present to be significant limitations upon the scope and scale of DoD’s likely influence on technological advance that can contribute to the nation’s energy infrastructure as a whole, and particularly to the development and deployment of low-carbon energy systems that might affect the rate of climate change.”

The report questions how “DoD’s innovation capacity can or will be applied to the energy challenges that are most relevant to our national and global environmental goals.” The DoD’s innovation systems and programs may offer vital lessons and models, the report argues, but those systems and programs do not necessarily translate directly or well to public goals that are not military mission-focused.

Is the energy innovation potential of DoD limited? Why has the DoD been such an effective source of innovation? What lessons can the energy sector and policymakers glean from the DoD innovation model?