By Amy McLaughlinOctober 20, 2011
FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz., Oct. 20, 2011 -- While October is Energy Awareness Month, Fort Huachuca considers energy production and consumption year-round. Energy conservation at Fort Huachuca is aimed at having the installation become a net zero installation -- a concept of self-sustainability that focuses on zero energy, water and waste -- by 2025. Multiple energy conservation projects have been completed and new projects have been underway since the 1980s.
Future projects include Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, certified construction, a solar array and a waste-burning facility that could also potentially generate energy.
WHY IS ENERGY SECURITY IMPORTANT TO THE ARMY?
Increasing energy security is high priority for Army leadership. Reducing operational and installation energy demand and enhancing energy security is operationally necessary, financially prudent and mission critical. The scale of renewable energy production the Army needs in order to meet Army goals and federal mandates, as well as provide enhanced energy security, is estimated to require investment of up to $7.1 billion over the next 10 years.
In order to meet its goals, the Army will need to collaborate with the private sector.
The newest addition to the Army's energy conservation and net zero efforts is the Army Energy Initiatives Task Force, which was formed this year and became fully operational in September. The EIO Task Force is part of the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment, and will serve as the central managing office for the development of large-scale Army renewable energy projects.
According to the EIO Task Force fact sheet, the Army manages over 15 million acres of land within the U.S. and currently spends nearly $4 billion each year on energy. The Army is forming partnerships with the private sector to meet its goal of 25 percent renewable energy by 2025 as part of the Net Zero Installation initiatives around the service, which will ultimately reduce energy costs overall and improve the Army's energy security.
This monumental task requires more than just installing renewable energy equipment such as wind turbines and photovoltaic panels. It is counterproductive to install equipment to reduce energy costs while consuming the same amount of energy as we were before, said Bill Hill, garrison energy manager.
ENERGY CONSERVATION BEGINS AT THE LOWEST LEVEL
We have to start at the lowest level, Hill explained. For example, changing the type of light bulbs we use and turning them off when leaving the room, is a way for individuals to help the fort achieve its goal.
"Lighting is usually 'low-hanging fruit' because you know that once you install these lights, you're going to save money and use less energy. By using the proven technology of LED [light-emitting diode] lighting, we cannot only reduce the use of electric energy, but enhance the work atmosphere considerably," Hill said.
Since Oct. 27, 2010, the Army has been required to switch to compact fluorescent light and LED light bulbs and eliminate the use of incandescent bulbs. This effort is to be completed within five years, Hill said -- the sooner the better.
"Merely changing bulbs will help considerably in conserving electrical energy. However, we must install only lighting fixtures which will enhance the use of this lighting. Since LED not only is more efficient, it does not have the hazardous waste associated with CFL."
These lights have already been installed in more than 75 percent of the fort's buildings. This should have resulted in a 50 to 80 percent reduction in electricity consumption, but some organizations have adopted 24-hour operations instead of the typical eight-hour workday, and consumption has actually risen.
"Their lights are on two-thirds more time," Hill said. "It totally wipes out the savings and increases their load two-fold. Instead of the three percent decline we are supposed to be on, we are in fact, on a three percent incline again."
NET ZERO EQUIPMENT CONSIDERATIONS
"Reaching a net zero post does not always entail installing all net zero equipment initially. For instance, at first glance it might appear that installing a piece of solar powered equipment with battery back-up in an isolated area of the post would be most economical," Hill said. However, the maintenance of the battery may not only be a high cost in time and money the first few years, but it may be extremely high after more years due to the age of the equipment.
According to Hill, the energy plan is to furnish the fort's entire electric grid with solar energy with at least one solar array, so a life cycle cost analysis would probably indicate the use of LED bulbs using conventional wiring as the most economical installation.
"[Direct current] to power lighting should also be considered," Hill continued. "If in an isolated area, the eliminated inverter and accompanying maintenance may provide a favorable LCCA by itself." He said that since the fort's plans are to install renewable energy to power then entire fort using solar with "spinning reserves," installing PV panels with most projects using power and directing that electric power to the existing grid should be considered.
"Not only would that reduce our electric costs now, but it will prepare even a greater savings when we complete the solar grid," he said.
WIND TURBINE INSTALLED
In January, 2011, a wind turbine was installed on the fort. It has the capability of producing enough energy to power 250 to 300 average-size homes, according to Tom Carbone, CEO of Nordic Windpower.
Nordic Windpower, the U.S.-based manufacturer of the turbine, is a technology developer and manufacturer of innovative, two-bladed wind turbines for the rapidly expanding global wind market. This is the first time Nordic Windpower has worked with a military installation.
The fort's turbine has two blades, as opposed to three, which allows for the turbine to be lighter and work under lower wind sources. It only requires winds of about nine miles per hour to power the turbine, and it is designed to point itself into the wind and self-adjust as the wind direction changes.
After undergoing initial maintenance and passing all tests, the turbine is now active. A ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled for early November.
SOLAR POWER PROJECTS CONTINUE
Solar projects were first implemented in 1980, with a solar pool-heating system installed at Barnes Field House, a domestic hot water system the following year and small photo voltaic, or PV, systems (solar cell systems) in 1988.
PV systems were also installed in other areas around post to include the Holman Guest House in 1982, Thrift Shop in 1996 (later relocated to the covered parking area adjacent to the Sulfur Springs Valley Electric Co-op building on Fort Huachuca), supply warehouse in 1998, PV parking lot lights at Alchesay Barracks in 1994, the Noncommissioned Officer Academy in 1995, Trojan Switch in 1996, Raymond W. Bliss Army Health Center in 2003 and the Electronic Proving Ground headquarters in 2004.
FORT BOASTS ARIZONA'S FIRST NET ZERO SCHOOL
Not only is the new Col. Smith Middle School on Fort Huachuca Arizona's first net zero school, but it is also only the 12th net zero school in the U.S. and is projected to produce as much energy as it uses in a year.
Some of the energy-efficient features will include water harvesting and green products; a facility which is naturally illuminated with daylight through the architect's building design; and a dashboard that will allow students to monitor energy conservation.
WHAT IS THE BOTTOM LINE?
"To meet a goal of 25 percent renewable energy by 2025, the Army must use every opportunity to be energy efficient and draw power from alternative and/or renewable energy sources," said Secretary of the Army John M. McHugh, in his announcement of the establishment of the EIO Task Force, Aug. 10.
Fort Huachuca is well on its way.
Army Energy Initiatives Task Force
"Stand To!" Oct. 15, 2011 edition
Tywanna Sparks contributed to this article.