One would think as billions of dollars are being directed towards “on-facility” energy that is uninterruptable from supply chains (e.g. biomass, combined heat and power (CHP), geothermal, solar, water energy, and wind) – that we have covered those issues. Not yet.
To be fair, DoD is not monolithic, and within an organization larger than most countries, good planning, testing, and field validation is ongoing. I will reference this fine work after addressing several fundamental issues.
In general, the idea and benefits for net metering are that a facility installs a solar electric system, any extra electricity that cannot be used on-site gets sent to the electric grid, and the facility is then credited for this electric power. This saves the facility the costs of battery storage and allows the utility to have mid-day power, especially during the summer when this period has high mid-day electric loads. But what happens if the electric utility has an outage? The electricity from the entire solar or wind generation plant cannot be used.
DoD – The Good News
Both DoD headquarters and each of the services have now formally issued their energy plans. From a policy point of view, these plans are consistent, focused, meet the DoD mission squarely, save money, but do not yet optimize the investments and ensure absolute continuity of operations.
The Air Force’s new energy plan, issued in May 2013, calls for the service to adopt a more integrated approach to energy management emphasizing conserving energy and achieving energy security at its installations.
The two initiatives the Air Force is pursuing will help support its new strategic plan — the net zero initiative and the air base of the future. A net zero posture for installation energy and water is intended to curtail consumption of those two resources. To achieve its net zero goals, the service plans to increase on-site generation of energy from renewable sources — an approach which could improve installations’ energy resiliency by reducing their reliance on the commercial grid.
The Navy issued a new energy policy in July 2012 that will drive energy consumption reduction at all Navy installations and seek new or existing technical solutions for reducing energy. The Shore Energy Management Instruction signifies a complete revision from the previous version published in 1994. The revised instruction includes specific responsibilities and actions that commands and personnel ashore must take in implementing the Navy Shore Energy program. Shore energy security for Navy is the mitigation of vulnerabilities related to the electrical grid, including outages from natural disasters, accidents and physical and cyber-attacks.
To increase shore energy security, the Navy plans to:
1. Provide reliable, resilient, and redundant mission-critical energy sources to Navy tier I and II task critical assets (TCA) ashore.
2. Reduce vulnerabilities tied to the electrical grid, including outages from natural disaster, accident, and physical and cyber attack, by lowering energy dependence and integrating energy security technologies which enable greater control of energy supply and distribution.
The U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) Published Order on Energy Metrics & Measures in Acquisition Process from the Commandant of the Marine Corps published Order 3900.19, which tasks the Marines to apply energy performance metrics and measures to everything from aircraft to the individual Marine. The order intends for a standing energy review of all programs "big" and "small" as they come through the acquisition process. On the first page, the order clearly lays out the problem: "A Marine infantry company today uses more fuel than an entire infantry battalion did in 2001." It attributes the growing fuel demand to the "dramatic increase in the number, weight, and energy requirements of systems deployed." In response to the increasing demand, Order 3900.19 aims "to increase...efficiency and effectiveness...by lightening the load on our Marines and our combat logistics.”
The largest service, the U.S. Army, released its Operational Energy Policy, signed by Army Secretary John McHugh, on April 30, 2013, which directs leadership, commands, and staff to identify energy performance improvements through:
- Changing behavior and organizational culture.
- Integrating energy considerations into planning, requirements development, acquisition, construction, operations, research, development, technology and evaluation, reporting, and management programs.
- Coordinating energy-related plans, budgets and activities.
- Tracking, managing, and reporting operational energy performance and usage.
On June 13, 2013, the U.S. Army issued its net zero energy report on the net zero energy, water and waste base implementation and expectations.
Tomorrow, we'll discuss specific technologies and methods the Department of Defense can consider in order to increase mission effectiveness with renewables.
Scott Sklar is President of The Stella Group, LTD, and an adjunct professor at George Washington University.