Science and Technology News

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Service Officials Affirm Commitment to Renewable Energy

By Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON  – Army and Air Force senior leaders said they remain confident that industry partnerships will help develop large-scale renewable energy projects on the services’ posts and installations.

During the Joint U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force Industry Day yesterday, Katherine Hammack, assistant secretary of the Army for installations, energy and environment, and Terry Yonkers, assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations, environment and logistics, explored ways to leverage private sector capital in pursuit of cost-effective energy security strategies.

Ideas range from alternative fuel research and development, rooftop solar panels, and power-generating wind turbines, according to Hammock and Yonkers.

Hammack said behavioral changes and efficiency measures such as smart grid technology can reduce base and installation electrical loads.

“We hope to get energy security, and access to secure reliable uninterrupted power on posts and installations and do it at a lower cost,” she said.

“It all adds up to overall energy security on our installations and the reduced cost of doing business -- that’s really the focus,” Yonkers said. “It’s a pragmatic, practical approach to energy security, economic security and diversifying our portfolio.”

As the cost of alternative and biofuels decreases over time, service officials said they also want to strengthen domestic capabilities by upping purchasing power for tactical and non-tactical operations.

“We are … ready and willing to purchase about 2 billion gallons of [alternative and biofuels] on an annual basis,” Yonkers said.

Yonkers and Hammack said they will continue dialogue with industry to ensure policies and procedures are as transparent and predictable as possible.

While officials assert the Army’s and Air Force’s overall goal of developing 1 gigawatt, equivalent to 1 billion watts, of renewable power on their installations by 2025, is attainable, costs could run has high as $7-8 billion per gigawatt, leaving the DOD to rely heavily on third-party investors to overcome technical challenges, build renewable energy capacity, and strengthen energy security, Yonkers and Hammack said.

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