Sunday, November 14, 2010

Navy Energy Vision

The Department of the Navy unveiled a new Energy, Environment and Climate Change website in November 2010. The website, located at, provides more or less all you need about Navy programs to achieve energy security, practice environmental stewardship and understand the potential challenges presented by a changing climate.

Before the site was launched the US Navy released on 13 October 2010 a document about Navy Energy Vision, a very good document, written to be read. This post is a summary of that document.

First let me list some facts scattered around the document:

• Navy energy use is 30% of DOD energy use.

• Navy petroleum use represents 0.4% of U.S. petroleum use.

• Navy uses 75% of its energy afloat in its ships, aircraft, and vehicles and 25% ashore.

• Close to 60% of Navy energy use can be attributed to liquid petroleum-based fuels.

• Every day, the Navy consumes approximately 80,000 barrels of oil afloat and 20,000 megawatt hours of electricity ashore.

• Naval Aviation operates more than 3,700 aircraft that consume over 600 million gallons of petroleum based fuels each year.

• Over the last half-century, the aircraft carrier and submarine fleets have been completely converted to nuclear propulsion. However, more than 200 Navy ships remain dependent on fuel that must be resupplied every few days.

• The Navy already draws more than a quarter of its energy afloat from nuclear reactors on aircraft carriers and submarines.

• Naval Aviation operates more than 3,700 aircraft that consume over 600 million gallons of petroleum based fuels each year.

Energy security for Navy is defined as having assured access to reliable supplies of energy and the ability to protect and deliver sufficient energy to meet operational needs afloat and ashore. Energy security is a critical component of National security.

Tactical energy security for the Navy is mitigation of vulnerabilities related to the energy requirements of tactical platforms, including the length of the logistics tail and the volatility of petroleum prices. Over-reliance on petroleum is a critical strategic vulnerability and creates constraints at the operational and tactical levels. That is why, the Navy aims to increase tactical energy security by decreasing overall fuel consumption, increasing the fuel efficiency of tactical systems, and using alternative fuels.

Already, Navy is the largest producer of alternative energy in the federal government, thanks to its geothermal power production at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, commenced in 1987. The geothermal plants at China Lake, with a full capacity of 270 megawatts, provide power to over 300,000 households in California.

The Navy’s Incentivized Energy Conservation (i-EN CON) program since 1999 contributed to a 10% reduction in average maritime fuel burn rates. In the same period, stern flaps installed on more than 60% of all surface ships have produced a strong return on investment for the Navy. Meanwhile, flight simulators have contributed to reducing fuel consumption and maintenance costs.

Test and certification of alternative fuels for maritime applications is already underway.

In 2009, Navy conducted the first test of an F/A-18 Super Hornet engine running on a 50/50 blend of petroleum-based and camelina-based naval aviation fuel (JP-5). In spring 2010, operational test was performed successfully in a supersonic flight. Afterwards, Super Hornet was dubbed Green Hornet. Besides that, a Navy prototype Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) currently runs on hydrogen fuel cell technology.

In 2009, the Navy commissioned its first amphibious assault ship, the USS Makin Island, with an electric auxiliary propulsion system that enables more efficient operation at speeds up to 12 knots. The first fuel to be tested will be a 50/50 blend of petroleum-based and algal-based naval ship propulsion fuel (F-76). Land-based engine testing and small craft at-sea demonstrations are planned for 2010 and 2011, and a shipboard demonstration is planned for 2012. Systems based on the same principle—using the shipboard gas turbine generator for propulsion—are under development for DDG-51 class guided missile destroyers. Current designs for a hybrid electric drive for DDG-51 could provide fuel savings on the order of 10 percent over baseline models at low speeds. A shipboard prototype is planned for 2012 on USS Truxtun.

Shore energy security for the Navy is mitigation of vulnerabilities related to the electrical grid, including outages from natural disaster, accident, and physical and cyber attack. The Navy increases shore energy security by decreasing overall energy consumption, increasing the energy efficiency of shore systems, increasing the use of viable alternative energy sources, and increasing the reliability of energy for critical assets.

Energy Vision envisions a Navy that values energy as a strategic resource; a Navy that understands how energy security is fundamental to executing its mission afloat and ashore; and a Navy that is resilient to any potential energy future. It identifies ends, ways, and means for increasing energy security.

In achieving this vision, the Navy will protect access to energy sources, consider energy requirements in strategic planning, incorporate energy requirements in all phases of systems development and acquisition, employ energy efficiency as a force multiplier for enhanced combat capability and a reduced logistics tail, spearhead early testing and adoption of viable alternative energy sources, rapidly adopt energy efficient technology and operating procedures, etc.

This vision comes with measurable goals, albeit some are over ambitious.

Alternative Energy Afloat: By 2020, half of the Navy’s total energy consumption afloat will come from alternative sources.

Great Green Fleet: By 2016, the Navy will sail the Great Green Fleet, a carrier strike group composed of nuclear ships, hybrid electric ships running biofuel, and aircraft flying on biofuel.

Alternative Energy Ashore: By 2020, half of the Navy’s total energy consumption ashore will come from alternative sources; the Navy will make half of its installations net-zero energy consumers, using solar, wind, ocean, and geothermal power generated on base.

Critical Infrastructure: By 2020, all of the Navy’s critical infrastructure will have reliable backup power systems and redundant power systems where viable to maintain mission effectiveness in the event of an outage in commercial electrical grid (due to any reason including natural disaster, accident, and physical and cyber attack).

Petroleum in Non-Tactical Vehicles: By 2015, the Navy will cut in half the amount of petroleum used in its commercial vehicle fleet through phased adoption of hybrid, electric, and flex fuel vehicles.

Efficiency and Conservation Afloat: By 2020, the Navy will increase efficiency and reduce overall fuel consumption afloat by 15 percent while maintaining or enhancing its ability to fight.

Efficiency and Conservation Ashore: By 2020, the Navy will increase efficiency and reduce overall energy consumption ashore by 50 percent.

Energy Efficient Acquisition: Evaluation of energy factors will be mandatory when awarding contracts for systems and buildings; industry will be held contractually accountable for meeting energy efficiency targets.

The success of the Navy Energy Vision and Strategy depends on key enablers. Navy lists the following enablers: leadership, sustained investment at all levels of technology, combining advances in technology with forward-looking policies and old-fashioned incentives, strategic partnerships, and culture change. Each of these enablers requires sustained commitment and resources.

In conclusion, the document underlines that successful implementation of the Energy Strategy and realization of the Energy Vision will depend on a variety of factors. Among the most difficult to predict are future mission requirements, fleet structure, and operating tempo. Introducing new technologies and operating procedures may require modifications to policy. While today’s fight is ongoing, and the character of tomorrow’s is uncertain, the Navy must maintain the long-term perspective required for investing in a new energy posture.



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