Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Letters to Airmen

Michael W. Wynne, Secretary of the Air Force issued a Letter to Airmen on July 14, 2007 titled “Energy Update.”

Here is what he says in the Letter:

“There's some exciting and promising innovations in energy occurring throughout our Air Force. .... We have all read about the energy crisis; and likely wonder how to sort fact from fiction. But we are also watching as organizations large and small react by identifying areas where they can "lighten their footprint" on the environment.
What we are discovering is that there are, in fact, areas where we can lighten our footprint. As a part of our nation's defense, we should consider what we need to be available in the event of an interruption in energy supplies, and to push technologies that reduce our energy demand. We launched several energy reduction initiatives around our Air Force including Low Speed Vehicles with reduced energy consumption; and yes the use of those florescent bulbs, that retailers are discounting, produce light at a reduced electrical load.
We hope to do our part to reduce our, and maybe America's, dependence on this more and more expensive source of energy, and that is petroleum.

… It is helping us create a culture that can be mindful of the footprint we leave on the environment, … I ask that you continue to use your capabilities to uncover new and different ways to increase our energy efficiency in the most effective way.”

What is new in this call to Airmen is Secretary Wynne’s use of “interruption in energy supplies.” Does he want to indicate any coming planned interruption or?

More than a year ago, on September 06, 2006, when Secretary Wynne issued another Letter to Airmen on Energy Conservation, he didn’t mention any interruption.

“Much like your own household budget, increased energy costs have significantly impacted the Air Force's bottom line. For example, just a $10 increase in a barrel of oil costs the Air Force almost $600 million a year - money better spent fighting the GWOT or recapitalizing our aging fleet. Under the auspices of AFSO 21, I ask every Airman to make energy use a priority and bring forth ideas on how we can be more efficient in its use.

As the largest user of energy in the DoD, the Air Force has developed a two-pronged energy strategy to attack this problem. This strategy of assured domestic supply and aggressive energy conservation will benefit our entire Air Force, but we need all Airmen to do their part….

On the supply side, the Air Force continues to pursue cutting edge technology. As the Nation's largest purchaser of renewable energy, we used over one million-megawatt hours of green power in 2005 - enough to power 70,000 homes for a year! Green power accounts for 11% of all Air Force electric consumption, which includes thirty-seven Air Force installations. Just recently, we won the 2006 Environmental Protection Agency's Climate Protection Award for our green power initiatives - a monumental achievement!

We also generate renewable power at several installations using solar, wind, and biomass (plant-derived) sources. Our research labs are hard at work developing synthetic hydrocarbon fuels made from coal, oil shale, and biomass. …

On the demand side, we continue to look for ways to reduce energy consumption in our facilities, vehicles, and aircraft operations…. We reduced facility energy usage by 30% over the last twenty years by incorporating energy conservation into our operations - without impacting the mission or quality of life. We are currently testing and developing several innovative methods of powering ground vehicles with alternative fuels, such as E- 85 ethanol, hydrogen, and hybrid fuel cell-electric power systems. …. aggressively looking for ways to increase aircraft fuel efficiencies through engine and airframe design.”

So, increase in supply and decrease in consumption. I wrote several times on my blog that use of synfuel (as USAF tests on B-52 is insane) will only increase the fuel cost. The reductions he always mentions concern facility energy use, most of which is electricity.

The US Air Force Chief Master Sergeant Rodney J. McKinley’s call to Airmen “Saving Energy, Saving Our Air Force” on March 09, 2007 was also mainly focusing on facility energy use.

“…We've made great strides in our efforts - developing synthetic aviation fuel, then testing our aircraft on these fuels; running more than 25% of our ground vehicles on alternative and flex fuels and cutting our energy consumption by 30% over 20 years. …

…By taking simple actions, each Airman saves Air Force energy assets and conserves resources. Please note "simple" actions, not little or small. …By turning lights off when rooms are vacant, keeping thermostats between 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit, and switching computer monitors off when not in use,…

Did you know conserving water saves electricity too? Water is itself a resource we need to safeguard, however, many people don't realize our air bases spend a great deal of electrical power supplying, and then cleaning up water after its been used. So by taking steps such as waiting until you have a full load before running the washing machine or dishwasher and using a broom instead of the water hose to clean sidewalks and driveways, we can all save energy in our housing, work and recreation areas.

We can't forget to analyze our everyday actions for opportunities to conserve energy.”

Very good points from Chief Master Sergeant on the power of simple actions. Does he know how much water is required for watering the Gulf course? How many gulf courses does the DoD have?

A press release from the Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, (New energy-saving initiative starts at Luke) on July 10, 2007 talks about energy conservation initiative after normal duty hours, and on solar panels, again all aimed at reducing facility energy consumption.

“Computers will automatically shutdown daily starting at around midnight….As the largest F-16 training base in the world, …The training of Luke fighter pilots and mission ready Airmen, along with other base organizations that support the mission, require not only manpower, food and gas, but electricity, and lots of it.

"Our goal is to use 100 percent renewable energy throughout Luke,"

To help reduce Luke's energy consumption and to increase the use of renewable energy, Honeywell International helped to fund the installation of 452 photovoltaic solar panels on the 144,000-square-foot roof of the base exchange, which was completed in 2006. The solar panels produce 375 kilowatts of electricity …”

When USAF will grasp that it is OIL that they consume most. Instead of finding synthetic alternatives USAF should just focus on finding ways to consume less oil.

It is not only valid for USAF but also for the whole DOD. Note that the DoD spent about $16.5 billion on energy for tactical vehicles, $238 million on non-tactical vehicles and $3.5 billion on facility energy in FY 2006. More than $20 billion (billion with nine zeros) on energy.

Tags: Military Energy Consumption, Alternative Fuels, Department of Defense, US Air Force, Military Oil Consumption


At 4:10 AM, Blogger Military Observer said...

The Nellis Solar Power Plant will be the largest solar photovoltaic system ever to be built in North America and is located at Nellis Air Force Base in Clark County, Nevada, on the northeast side of Las Vegas. The Nellis solar energy system will generate in excess of 25 million kilowatt-hours of electricity annually and supply more than 25 percent of the power used at the base.[1]

Occupying 140 acres of land leased from the Air Force at the western edge of the base, this ground-mounted solar system will employ an advanced sun tracking system, designed and deployed by PowerLight. Approximately 70,000 solar panels will be installed and the peak power generation capacity of the plant will be approximately 15 megawatts.[1]

I have to admit that is pretty amazing. But I really think the Air Force should be looking into stuff like the Solar Impulse!



Power of engines 40 kw
Maximum Altitude 12,000m
Max speed 70 km
Wingspan 80m
Solar Cells Monocrystaline Silicon
minimum energy effieceny 20%

Pretty amazing, this idea could easily be used for unmanned planes like the Global Hawk, or the predator. Saving probably a couple million dollars a year on fuel, and opening up exploration for further development.

Keep on posting!


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