Saturday, August 08, 2009

Army's Electricity Pains and Pills

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPA Act 2005), Executive Order 13423 (EO 13423)[1] and the Energy Independence and Security Act 2007 (EISA 2007) combined with the National Defense Authorization Act of 2007 and the National Energy Conservation Policy Act of 1978 require military installations to reduce energy consumption and to use increasing amounts of renewable energy for their electricity needs and also require that those electricity generating systems to be located on the military installations. All these legislative orders have been posing challenges for the Department of Defense but at the same time giving opportunities to the private sector to help advance energy security and climate change mitigation initiatives - efficiency, conservation and zero-carbon energy sources.

I have mentioned on my blog countless time that any measure towards reducing energy consumption depends on knowing how energy is being used and how accurately it is measured. And the cheapest and most effective way to reduce energy consumption is to modify energy consumption habits, including, maintaining mandated thermostat set points, removing space heaters and turning off electronic equipment and lights where not (as much) needed. To reduce oil consumption may not be that easy but there is a lot of room for saving electricity.

Chief Master Sgt. Larry O'Neil (26th Air Refueling Wing Facility Management) gives a handy summary of thoughts on energy consumption and reduction in his short article. He rightly underlines the fact that as there is little we can do about the rates we pay, there is an abundance of things we can do to reduce our usage. He provides a list to notify the changes people ‘you as Wing members will start to notice on a daily basis’. I liked the precision in the list and hence will repeat here.

Current Changes
Summer thermostat set points changed from 72 degrees to 76 degrees. (May 09)
Winter thermostat set points changed from 72 degrees to 68 degrees. (May 09)
The elimination of space heaters in work space unless authorized by the Vice Wing Commander. (May 09)
Hot water heaters from 140 degrees to 120 degrees. (July 09)
Replacement of T-12 fluorescent light bulbs with T-8 bulbs. (May 08)
Reduce exterior lighting at night time; always keeping safety and security at the forefront. (Aug 09)
Installation of next generation of HVAC monitoring systems. (Jun 09 - Dec 09)
Energy audit of facilities by an independent agency. (Dec 08)
All future appliance purchases to be made acquiring Energy Star appliances.

Future Changes
Installing motion sensors in offices for lighting.
Replace warehouse lighting with more efficient fluorescent lighting.
Installing geo-thermal system in two facilities.
Installing "Smart" metering at all facilities resulting in more accurate and minute to minute delivery.

Changes you can make at work
When departing a room for more than five minutes turn off room lights and computer monitors.
Use televisions only during breaks or for training.
At the end of the duty day turn off printers, radios, lights, fans, and all other non-essential appliances.
Draw window shades to prevent sunlight heat from over-heating a room in the summer, then raise them in the winter to allow heat to come in.
Keep overhead doors closed whenever possible.

Electrical power is probably the biggest energy pain of the Army. And it seems that Army is focusing for electricity only future. Therefore all measures listed above should be double applied to Army.

The U.S. Army will soon be the largest fleet owner of both low-speed electric vehicles and hybrid-electric vehicles. Note that Army is buying 4,000 low-speed electric vehicles. This is part of the Army's plans for energy security, which focus on surety, sufficiency, supply, sustainability and survivability. Other plans include such things as micro-grids for more efficient power distribution, reductions in consumption of energy on installations, certification of tactical vehicles for alternative fuel use, and partnerships with industry to build power-production capacity.

"All of those things are important to us for energy security," says Dr. Kevin T. Geiss, program director for energy security in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations and Environment. He modified a Marine Corps motto, "beans, bullets and bandages," to include "BTUs" or British thermal units -- a unit for measuring energy.

I agree with him that energy security is an end state. But how to reach to that end needs further clarification about the means. At all costs, unconventional ways, in selected or all platforms etc? Take energy cost for example. While fuel costs $2 a gallon to $4 a gallon in the US, the "fully burdened" cost (which includes costs of getting fuel to where it is needed) in some operating locations in Iraq and Afghanistan can have one or two extra zeros in gallon price tag.

Some of that fuel is used for producing electricity. So, one should calculate fully burdened cost of electricity generation in forward operating locations. Because for instance, energy consumed by a combat vehicle is both for mobility of the vehicle and for running the systems onboard the vehicle, including the communications equipment and the cooling systems to protect the electronics and sensors onboard. One combat vehicle operates an 800-horsepower power plant -- of which only 200 horsepower are used for mobility. The rest is to power the vehicle's subsystems.

Meanwhile, TARDEC (the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center in Warren, Mich) is preparing to lead the way in producing safer, more efficient and more high-powered ground vehicles in the future with the construction of the Department of Defense's Ground System Power and Energy Laboratory. Army's this next generation of power and energy initiative will investigate the ability to integrate hybrid-electric and fuel-cell technologies into advanced military vehicles.


At 10:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

thank you so much for this blog that i read more or less regularly.

to let you know there are silent, but highly appreciative, readers out there.



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