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QDR reveals Army on target for energy security

By C. Todd Lopez

WASHINGTON (Feb. 05, 2010) -- Language in the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review, released Feb. 1, supports the Army's ongoing efforts to achieve energy security.

The review "resonates very well with what the Army has been promoting over the last year, and what our strategy is," said Dr. Kevin T. Geiss, program director for energy security in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations and Environment.

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The QDR is produced every four years, as directed by Congress. It is a self-assessment of the Department of Defense, and a review of the department's strategy and priorities. The 2010 QDR reveals the department's insights on how the security environment is affected by climate change and energy availability and consumption.

Geiss said he believes the DOD's language in the report is in tune with what the Army has already been practicing in its efforts to achieve energy security.

"The first thing I would say is, they are singing our song," Geiss said. "We are very pleased to see how OSD is defining what energy security is. It is not just the supply piece, it is what if the grid fails, and also cyber security. It's being able to maintain and defend those logistical tails of fuel in theater. It's making sure those new technologies we are deploying are not breaking down, or that they are providing a sufficient amount to maintain our critical functions."

In the effort to bolster energy security, the Army is making efforts at places like Fort Irwin, Calif., and Hawthorne, Nev. In those places, the Army has engaged in projects designed to strengthen energy security -- to reduce the installation's reliance on the civilian power grid, while at the same time finding ways to reduce overall power use and to also ensure that critical missions are not hampered in any way.

At Fort Irwin, the Army -- in partnership with industry -- has embarked on a long-term project to build a 500-megawatt solar power plant that will help ensure energy security to the installation. Last year, the Army named the developer for the project, and that developer has now put together a preliminary plan on how the project will be completed, Geiss said.

"I believe the Corps of Engineers is in receipt of that formal plan that will lay out, over the timeframe of the project, which phases or which aspects of the project will be done when," Geiss said. After the final plan is submitted and approved, there will be an environmental evaluation of the project before it can proceed. That's expected to take 18 months.

A 30-megawatt geothermal power plant is also in the works at Hawthorne Army Depot, Nev., Geiss said.

"Right now we are looking at the development through a power purchase agreement," he said. "They would finance the project and we'd agree to buy a certain amount of power over a certain period of time."

The Army's efforts at finding security are also evident in the ongoing transformation of its 70,000-vehicle non-tactical fleet. More than 500 hybrid vehicles are currently in use, the QDR acknowledges, and the service is in the process of acquiring 4,000 low-speed electrical vehicles at state-side installations to cut down on fuel costs.

"With the LSEV, the six-year leasing contract allows Army to save over 111,000 tons of (carbon dioxide) emissions and about 11 million gallons of fossil fuel not burned," Geiss said.

The QDR also reiterates that DOD will implement the requirement set forth in the 2009 National Defense Authorization Act that the Secretary of Defense must include consideration for the "fully burdened cost of fuel" when considering purchases of new capabilities, for instance.

The fully burdened cost of fuel means not just what fuel costs at the point of sale, but also the cost incurred getting the fuel to where it will be used. That means the cost of moving that fuel in convoy, the cost of security to protect that convoy, and the cost in risk to lives while running such a convoy.

"As we look at acquisition of new weapons systems, the (Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology) put out a memo last year that they have to consider energy productivity in the acquisition of all new weapons systems," Geiss said. "They also have to consider the fully burdened cost of energy."

Also revealed Feb. 1: the Army's Fiscal Year 2011 budget includes money marked for energy-security projects. These funds are part of military construction, as well as installation sustainment, restoration, and modernization, Geiss said.

He explained that the Army Corps of Engineers is transforming military construction to follow energy-efficient design standards.

"MILCON can potentially have the biggest impact on what it is going to cost us for utilities in the long run," Geiss said. "Making that investment in that facility when it is built, and confirming that it is built to the design that will incorporate these standards, will impact how much it is going to cost to heat and cool and provide electricity for that facility for the lifecycle of that facility."

Efforts toward energy efficiency in new construction include such things as incorporation of renewable and alternative generation, like building-integrated photovoltaic cells and solar walls, which is a way to pre-heat air as it comes into a building, Geiss said.

Geiss said the budget contains funding for the Energy Conservation Investment Program, and for research projects such as small tactical grid systems, lightweight flexible photovoltaics, and advanced cogeneration systems.

The grid systems tie generators together for more efficiency. Flexible photovoltaics create solar energy, and cogeneration systems can reclaim heat produced by generators and use it for additional purposes.

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