Saturday, April 23, 2011

Energy and the UK Ministry of Defence

The US Department of Defense (DOD) and the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) need to learn from each other on how to tackle energy and CO2 emission issues. In my opinion, their main difference is the following: The DOD is obsessed with energy and the MOD is fixated on CO2. However, both need to do a lot more on collecting, managing and presenting the data. (even though the MOD is ahead of the DOD when it comes to identifying where and how is the fuel used (see here)
The UK MOD is more organized all its services follow more structured guidelines and policies. Below are some key points concerning the UK MOD and energy-climate change issues.

The UK Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) manages the military estate (installations), including accommodation for Service personnel and their families, on behalf of the MOD. The DIO was formed on 1 April 2011, when the former Defence Estates organisation was brought together with other infrastructure functions in the MOD to form a single organisation.

UK Ministry of Defence Climate Change Strategy 2010 is the single source of strategic direction necessary to enable the MOD to mitigate and adapt to the challenges of climate change and, where possible, to exploit any opportunities it presents. The Climate Change Strategy forms a sub-strategy under the MOD Sustainable Development Strategy.  MOD currently has an annual fuel bill of around £1 billion (USD 1.65 billion). Is that much? The DOD’s total energy bill is at least 10 times higher. The US Army alone spends $1 billion on fuel in Afghanistan only.

The MOD Sustainable Development Strategy sets out the MOD’s intended contribution to addressing the challenges of sustainable development. Its aim is to ensure that the MOD becomes a national leader in sustainable development. It provides the context and vision for the MOD’s approach to sustainable development; the strategic aims and objectives that we must achieve to realise this vision; and the means of delivering and reporting on these aims and objectives. (Sustainable Development Annual Report 09/10 was released in February 2011).

In Fiscal year 2008/9, The MOD was responsible for emissions of approximately 5.6 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent (Mt CO2e), roughly 1% of UK emissions. The use of Operational Energy (the fuel used to power military aircraft, ships, vehicles and generators) accounted for approximately two-thirds of MOD emissions in 2008/09, or 3.6 Mt CO2e The rest is Public Sector Estate and business travel. See, a full breakdown of MOD CO2 emissions.

The UK Armed Forces depend on a secure source of fossil fuels; for tankers that supply power to bases in Afghanistan; flying troops and supplies between the UK and Afghanistan; and for the Royal Navy patrolling the ocean’s trouble spots.

UK MOD Science and Technology Capability Visions are part of the Defence Technology Plan. These capability visions are aimed to seek, discover and support new innovation to meet long-term defence challenges. Launched in February 2009 with the aim of encouraging innovators and industry to work with MOD to develop revolutionary ideas, they address five long-term defence challenges.

The challenges listed are:
  • Electronics Defeat
  • Future Protected Vehicle
  • Novel Air Concept
  • Reducing Operational Dependency on Fossil Fuels
  • Reducing the Burden on the Dismounted Soldier

 The item “reducing operational dependency on fossil fuels” is exactly what the US department of Defense is also aiming.
In February 2011 The MoD's Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) agency has invited contractors to put forward ideas for how remote bases could switch to renewable energy sources. (also see here).

Most recent examples of the MOD’s green initiatives are the following:
Duke of York’s Military School Wind Turbine is the largest and the first grid connected wind turbine on the UK MOD installation. The wind turbine is expected to generate about 269,000 kWh of clean ‘green’ energy for the school.

Catterick Garrison Biofuel Project involves converting waste cooking oil from the Army kitchens into biofuel which is being used to fuel a Carillion Enterprise (C-E) vehicle.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the MOD is its near real time energy monitoring page for the MOD headquarter building (MOD Main Building in Whitehall). Will the Pentagon follow?



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