Monday, February 23, 2009

Unintended Costs and Consequences of Powering Down

From a January 2009 article on the Naval Institute blog, here's a piece that opened my eyes. I always view energy efficient design and operations as purely beneficial endeavors. They save fuel, money, shorten the log trail, give commanders more options, reduce carbon emissions and are rich in vitamins and minerals. But as usual, the real world is a bit different than what's in my head. In fact, according to these folks in the know at USNI, there are times when the act of saving energy brings other costs and even causes damage. Or causes other desirable metrics to go down the tubes. For example:
“During operation Enduring Freedom, the Dragonfires of Sea Control Squadron (VS) 29 achieved the highest mission rate ever reached by S-3 aircraft–and double that of any other Navy aircraft.  It did this with the second least expensive maintenance costs of any aircraft in the airwing by not completely shutting down the aircraft’s avionics and engines between sorties.”
Nothing snappy to conclude with here. Suffice it to say, I'll attempt to think more broadly about possibly unforeseen and undesirable consequences when considering new processes in an effort to reduce energy usage or improve energy productivity. Thanks Navy.

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