Science and Technology News

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Incirlik Innovation - Bright idea reduces base energy cost

by Senior Airman Michael Battles
39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

1/20/2015 - INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey  -- Editor's note: This article is part of a series designed to highlight innovative ideas, programs and actions that have or can save the Air Force money as well as improve mission readiness.

As a whole, the Armed Forces and Department of Defense are becoming smaller as part of a shrinking budget. Due to these fiscal restraints, service members are thinking out-of-the-box and developing innovative ways to improve their installations.

In an attempt to reduce Incirlik Air Base's energy usage, members of the 39th Civil Engineer Squadron's leadership, in cooperation with a contracted partner, developed a way to save the base $500,000 annually - solar water heating systems.

"As we get more into a financially constricted budget, we have to be smarter about doing projects and be good stewards to the taxpayers," said Christopher Stewart, 39th CES quality assurance flight commander. "The Air Force takes advantage of the newest technology and applies these innovative ideas to base projects to reduce energy costs."

The new solar system replaces the traditional electrical energy source, which heated a buildings' water supply in the past, by removing the heater from the base power grid, which ultimately lowers the amount of energy used by the facility.

According to Stewart, solar panel projects are one of the most effective techniques to save energy.

"The panels capture energy from sunlight and convert it to useable energy," Stewart said. "Other energy projects that are typical on Air Force installations are converting to higher efficiency light bulbs, upgrading water lines to reduce water breaks, but even though all of these projects contribute to energy reduction, the savings take longer to payback the cost of the project than solar panels."

The project, which costs $2.4 million, was implemented into 19 facilities across the base that require a larger amount of heated water such as the Sultan's Inn Dining Facility, fitness center and the base dormitories.

According to Capt. Thomas Sena, 39th CES director of operations, by targeting these high demand facilities the base will substantially reduce Incirlik's usage while following the Air Force's goal to save energy.

"The Air Force is always asking for energy saving projects, so this project worked in our favor since the facilities targeted were huge energy demanding facilities," Sena said.

Implemented in July 2013, the system has been operating slightly longer than 18 months. The 39th CES estimates that through reduction in base energy costs, the base will save the cost of the solar water heating systems by the summer of 2018.

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