Air Force Committed to Energy-Efficiency, Renewable Energy

The Air Force continues its pledge to be a leader in energy stewardship. For the last six months, the Air Force has been working on a strategy to have energy as a consideration in nearly all of its activities, from operations to acquisition. Inevitably, this has also led to increased interest in renewable energy and fuels.

The Air Force is increasing efforts to reduce the demand for energy using good building design, advanced planning tools for operations, more efficient jet engines and better conservation practices, said Dr. Ronald Sega, Undersecretary of the Air Force. According to Dr. Sega, the Air Force is also looking at alternative sources of energy, from potential conversion of natural gas or coal to jet fuel, to increased use of renewable energy sources. In October, the Air Force won a 2005 Green Power Leadership Award for its commitment to green power as the nation’s largest purchaser of renewable energy for 2004. Sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Energy and the Center for Resource Solutions, the award recognizes organizations whose actions help advance the development of the nation’s renewable energy market. In fact, in 2005, the Air Force purchased more than a million megawatts of energy derived from wind, solar, geothermal and other renewable energy sources, Dr. Sega said. This million-plus megawatt represents a threefold increase over the 2004 amount, and is enough energy to power the needs of 70,000 average-size homes for an entire year. “We’re committed to leading by example when it comes to energy conservation,” Dr. Sega said. “With the high price of fuel, an important resource for our mission, it’s important to look at how we use energy in all areas. We need to constantly look at how we’re powering our facilities and make sure we’re doing so in the most efficient manner possible.” Two of the Air Force’s success stories are Dyess and Fairchild Air Force bases, located in Texas and Washington respectively. The ground facilities on the two installations are powered 100 percent by renewable energy, Dr. Sega said. Additionally, the Air Force is constantly looking for ways to make its flying operations more energy conscious, with ongoing research into more efficient jet engines and unconventional fuels for current and future aircraft. As an example of this, efficient flying operations within Air Mobility Command (AMC) are a team effort, said Lt. Col. Bruce Sayre, 60th Operations Group Aircrew Standardization Evaluation chief at Travis Air Force Base, Calif. “Aviation fuel conservation doesn’t happen without a total team effort within AMC. It involves the AMC Tanker Airlift Control Center mission development branch analyzing and developing efficient mission profiles to maximize aircraft use while minimizing wasteful en route stops and air refuelings,” he said. Some results of Air Force efforts include: — The Air Force is the largest purchaser of renewable energy in the United States. — 11 percent of electricity the Air Force purchases comes from renewable energy sources. — Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., is the largest purchaser of renewable energy, with 138 million kilowatt hours of power purchased each year – enough to satisfy 60 percent of its electrical needs. — Air Force installation of wind farms at Ascension Island and F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo. — Reduction of Air Force energy use by 30 percent since 1985. — One quarter of the Air Force’s vehicle fleet is flex-fuel capable vehicles.
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