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Stereotypes have coined the US military as an institution rooted in tradition and even “backwards thinking” at times. Most rational thinkers wouldn’t view the military in such stark contrast with modern society, but such sentiment exists nonetheless.
So it might come as a surprise that the US Navy recently updated their energy plan from its last overhaul in 1994 (www.navy.mil). Interestingly enough, this one is vastly different and is, arguably, the first acknowledgement from the government of the existence and foreseeable threat of global warming.
The Navy’s New Energy Plan Focus: Improving Energy Security
Specifically the newly implemented plan is focused on codifying an energy reduction strategy. By 2020 the Navy plans on reducing their energy consumption by 50% through creating strategic plans to install offshore energy projects to facilitate energy needs to every Navy installation.
The basis behind the shift in design is to increase energy security. “Energy security is critical because warfighters need assured access to reliable supplies of energy to meet operational needs afloat or ashore,” said Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Fleet Readiness and Logistics, Vice Adm. Phil Cullom. Threats listed by the Navy involve the vulnerability of the Navy’s reliance on the electrical grid, specifically, outages from natural or man-made causes. It’s difficult to imagine the threat created through the existence of nuclear energy is also not on their mind.
“Energy security is critical because warfighters need assured access to reliable supplies of energy to meet operational needs afloat or ashore.”
-Vice Admiral Phil Cullom
This refreshing take on energy consumption is only the beginning of the Navy’s transformation. “We are committed to cost-effectively achieving our energy goals by pursuing energy efficiency, transforming our energy culture, and integrating renewable energy technologies, where viable, said the Chief.
The Navy Implements Offshore Energy Projects in Hawaii
The revised energy plan focuses on offsetting the Navy’s reduction in energy by implementing extensive offshore renewable energy projects. As a sign of actual movement in this direction, the Navy recently began a new research project off the Kaneohe Bay in Hawaii to test developing ocean wave power technologies. The current phase they are working on is to harness energy through placing buoys designed to trap energy from the motion of waves and then convert it into a viable energy source.
These tests in Hawaii are connected to a grid system in the region which includes a solar power array located on the Navy base in Pearl Harbor and a new hydrogen fuel cell demonstration fleet which is partnered with General Motors (GM). Partnering with the Navy, GM launched a fleet of 16 vehicles powered by hydrogen fuel cells. Fuel cell vehicles involve an electric vehicle combined with an on-board generator. The SUV looking prototypes can travel 200 miles before requiring a fresh charge. At a USDA press conference, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus stated that for every dollar oil prises go up, the Navy loses $30 million (veteransunited.com). The emission free vehicle’s only byproducts involve heat and water.
“The military is paving the way, demonstrating the practicality and applicability of this technology,” explained GM’s executive director of global fuel cell activities Charles Freese.”
The Navy’s plan seems like a viable solution to increase security, reduce carbon emissions, and hopefully help reduce the negative effects created through the global warming phenomenon.
Through their endeavor to break a new trail in their personal energy policies, the Navy not only sets a precedence for a clean energy market for their own benefit, but also for future generation in the private sector across the entire country as well.
A short video of a theoretical application of shoreline technology that could be put to use by the Navy.