WASHINTON (Army News Service, May 22, 2012) -- The assistant secretary of the Army for installations, energy and environment, in a bloggers roundtable today, said one of the reasons the Army is committed to one gigawatt of renewable energy is security.
"Right now," said Katherine Hammack, "the bases operate off of a nationwide electric grid, which as populations grow, just like much of the infrastructure in the United States, is getting aged and vulnerable. So this is really a move toward distributed energy where you are generating energy at the point of use. So we want to generate energy on the military bases."
To this end, the Army is hosting the Joint Army-Air Force Energy Forum on June 12 in Arlington, Va.
At this joint Energy Forum, Hammack said, the Army and Air Force will be discussing strategies, the way forward and how to work with each other in developing energy because it will primarily be done with private-sector funding, where the military services will commit to buying energy from alternative-energy producers who develop projects on military land.
ONE GIGAWATT OF RENEWABLE ENERGY
One gigawatt, she said, is about enough to run 250,000 homes.
"There are several ways you can generate energy. Some of it could be located on the buildings, it could shade vehicles in a parking lot, if you're using solar, or it could be placed on lands that are buffer lands between activities on a base and the local community," she said.
Renewable energy, Hammack said, is really a focus for energy security to ensure Army bases are able to operate and the military is able to serve the community and protect the community should power grids go down.
"There are several ways that we are approaching that one gigawatt," she said, listing them:
• Understand the resources that are available to installations by taking a look at whether they have biomass resources, wind resources, solar resources, geothermal resources, and identifying the resource availability.
• Look at land availability -- how much land is available on which to install renewable energy.
• Look at transmission capability -- the ability to produce the power and then transmit it to meet the needs of the base. Now in some cases, there might be enough land and resource availability to generate more power than the base needs and so it's an opportunity to contribute back to the community.
"One of the most interesting things about renewable energy is that in many cases it's an intermittent resource. So it doesn't mean that we are disconnecting from the power grid, it means that we are looking for energy to help reduce our peak power and give us the ability to operate longer should power disruptions occur," Hammack said.
But in the evening or during periods of intermittency, she said, the Army will still be purchasing power from the local grid.
"As far as cost goes, we're finding that many of these technologies have reached a price parity point with energy that is obtained from the local utility. So we are not looking to pay more for electricity, we are looking for parity, or the price point with the private sector that will enable us to have reliable resources for the long term within our current budget," Hammack said.
Both of the services, she said, have got a one-gigawatt, or a 1,000-megawatt renewable energy goal.
This is part of what President Barack Obama has asked of the federal agencies -- get more involved in renewable energy.
David McAndrew, Utility Program lead, in his May 2009 introduction to the document, "Utility Energy Services Contracts: Enabling Documents," said reducing the federal impact on the environment, increasing energy security, and promoting successful partnerships between federal agencies and utilities are among Federal Agency Management Program's highest priorities.
"But it is going to be dependent an awful lot on whether or not the private sector and those capital venturists are willing to put their money down to create these opportunities on our air bases," said Terry Yonkers, assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations, environment and logistics.
"And one of the messages that we will be taking with us to the June 12 energy forum that the Army is hosting this year, is how do we create these opportunities for the private sector to want to do those types of things on our air bases or our posts or Navy facilities, etc.," he said.
To learn more about or to sign up for the Joint Army Air Force Renewable Energy Industry Day on June 12, visit, http://upcomingevents.ctc.com/Army_AF_Industry_Day/information.html.
To read a summarized list of requirements on specific energy efficiency, renewable energy use, and water conservation goals for federal agencies and facilities, visit the Federal Agency Management Program at:
To learn more about LEED and the U.S. Green Building Council, visit, http://www.usgbc.org/Default.aspx.