Science and Technology News

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Air Force Official Recommends Energy Partnerships

By Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service

ARLINGTON, Va., Nov. 21, 2013 – Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Energy Dr. Kevin T. Geiss emphasized service collaboration in cost-savings measures during a panel discussion at the Joint Services Energy Panel at the George Mason University Arlington Campus here Nov. 20.

Geiss said the Air Force’s total fleet amounts to more than double that of major airlines United, Southwestern and Delta combined, thus keeping fuel costs, energy efficiency and security among the service’s highest priorities.

“It’s respectable that the military services individually are leading not only within the department, but also leading the federal government to find ways to be more energy efficient –- reduce costs, reduce the amount of energy and fuel that it takes to do the job,” he said. “We are expected to do our job and accomplish our mission … we’re not expected to come forth with an excuse that would relate to energy.”

Geiss noted that while the Air Force has won five federal energy management program awards –- more than any other single service and federal agency in the federal government -– other service branches are nonetheless “natural partners” who must face and solve similar energy problems together.

“The challenges that we have are similar across the board -– and it only makes sense for us to partner, discuss and share best practices … so that everyone is availed of that new information and that perspective,” he said.

Geiss also reported that significant energy efficiency opportunities lie in considering what airframes may have viable options for engine replacement.

“Current engine technology could provide us with engines that reduce energy consumption or increase energy efficiency … but also those designs are such that the engine never has to come off the wing again,” he said.

And some initiatives, Geiss explained, are multi-dimensional requiring an analytical take on factors other than energy. Larger-scale military aircraft projects may have a good business case, Geiss reported, but elements such as the timeframe for engine replacement may inhibit expected returns on investments.

“In such a case,” he said, “the maintenance and sustainment cost for that particular aircraft would be the one carrying the flag.”

Geiss also said he considers energy security and resiliency key components of the program, making it necessary to consider installations that could be vulnerable to various types of disruptions.

“Energy security is having the power when and where you need and in sufficient amounts to do the job and the ability to protect that and recover from any disruption,” Geiss said. “It’s not just having the power but recognizing that there are risks.”

Other panelists included Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Energy and Sustainability Richard Kidd IV and Chief of Staff, Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Energy Deputy Director Bryon Paez.

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