Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Transparency in the DOD Energy Effort: Zoomies Set the Standard

The Air Force just concluded their Renewable Energy Symposium at Ventana Canyon, Tucson, Arizona. Over the course of the two day discussion, the group discussed Corporate Energy, Congressional Energy Perspective (from Rep. Giffords’ office), industry trends and technology, technology, technology. For those of you, like me, who did not attend, the AF has made most of the information available. The same day as the conference closed. Very impressive. As a former information operator I understand the impact of timely information. One way to tamp down uncertainty is to provide knowledge as quickly and as succinctly as possible.

The Air Force, specifically, the Air Force Civil Engineering Support Agency, had the website up and the information out within hours of COL David Uselman and COL Patrick Kumashiro’s closing remarks. In a market place where information has been slow to be shared (or created), the USAF has set the standard in transparency. As far as the substance, that will take a little time to review.

The next opportunity to excel will be the Air Force & Army Energy Forum 19-20 July in DC. Again, for those who are not able to attend but have questions you would like asked, please add them to the comment section and I will take them with me. All in good taste, of course! Dan Nolan

Sunday, June 26, 2011

DOD/Army Leadership Steps out on Operational Energy: The Lab Is Open

Since the demise of the Power Surety Task Force, the Army has not had an agency focused on evaluating and deploying operational energy technology. Deficiency resolved, apparently.

This past week, Sharon Burke, Assistant Secretary of Defense, Operational Energy Plans and Programs and Katherine Hammack, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment oversaw the opening of the Army’s new Base Camp Systems Integration Lab (SIL) at Fort Devens, MA.

The SIL is under the direction of the Program Executive Office for Combat Support and Combat Service Support. It is composed of two, 150 person base camps, one configured for current capabilities and one to assess new technologies.

“Instrumentation on the SIL will measure water, fuel and power usage to help increase energy efficiency and base camp commonality.” The decision for the 150 person size is related to the “Force Provider” base camp in a box. Actually, it fits nicely in a single C-17, not a box.

This is a great way to get at the operational needs surrounding energy. The two sites will allow the evaluation of off the shelf technologies AND the development of next generation tech. The Force Provider is intend to be emplaced rapidly (four hours), support 150 people indefinitely and then go back into the box for use elsewhere. If the SIL focuses on just Force Provider requirements, it will miss the huge energy sinks that are the follow-ons to the expeditionary life support provided by FP, the more enduring Forward Operating Bases. We hope the lessons from the SIL will inform the contracting process that supports these Forward Operating Bases. I am sure they thought of that, but if it has not come up, here is another tidbit from NPR that helps crystallize the challenge. Dan Nolan

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Preparing for the last battle: Lessons from Afghanistan

Interesting piece published in the NY Times about missed opportunities in U.S. efforts to improve Afghan infrastructure. This is not a strictly DOD energy story, but it should inform thinking about future operations and our own infrastructure challenges at home. The article, written by Patricia McArdle, reports on a number of efforts to bring energy security and other infrastructure projects to the Afghan people that went awry because we failed to understand the territory. In her 12 months as a political advisor with the Department of State, Ms. McArdle had a front row seat to observe the outcomes of many well intended plans. Standard operating procedures tell you what to do in a given set of circumstances. If that “given set of circumstances” do not exist, there is no SOP. We must reward innovation and not always compliance.

Despite a 2004 Department of Energy study of Afghanistan energy sources that “ revealed abundant renewable energy resources that could be used to build small-scale wind- and solar-powered systems to generate electricity and solar thermal devices for cooking and heating water”, the U.S. brought in diesel generators and created a critical vulnerability.

International building codes dictated that the U.S. build concrete and cinderblock buildings for local projects, resulting in buildings that were hot in summer and cold in winter. The Afghan locals build with “cob — a mixture of mud, sand, clay and chopped straw molded to form durable, elegant, super-insulated, earthquake-resistant structures. With their thick walls, small windows and natural ventilation, traditional Afghan homes may not comply with international building codes, but they are cooler in summer and warmer in winter than cinder-block buildings”. I first noticed this when, then Colonel T.C. Moore, USMC, head of the Marine Corps Energy Assessment Team (or as we liked to call him, the MEAT Head) pointed it out while we were visiting COB Payne in Southern Afghanistan. “You know, there’s a reason they build them that way” T.C. mused, “What don’t we get?”.

Even when DOD tried a renewable project in support of our Afghan partners, they looked through their own filters, not the locals. An example can be found in Dina Maron’s article about an Army Corps of Engineers' plan running into trouble with a wind project in Afghanistan. A plan to build a 1 MW wind turbine for the Afghan equivalent of my Rock Bound Highland Home (West Point) went poorly. Problem was that the guy who drew the blueprints hadn’t walked the road. The 300 ton crane necessary for this behemoth couldn’t navigate the terrain. A U.S. solution (huge, centralized power) is not necessarily the answer in less developed regions. Typically, in Afghan wind project one sees small, distributed generation and it is for a reason. A hundred 10KWs would have been more manageable in this terrain.

In the great book, “America’s First Battles, 1776-1965” edited by Charles E. Heller and William A. Stofft, we learned that American’s tend to prepare for the first battle of the next war based upon how they fought the last battle of the previous war. This book changed American Military doctrine in a very positive way. We needed to be steeped in the past, not mired in it. After World War II, America helped rebuild Japan and Germany with 1950s technology. In Iraq and Afghanistan we have done the same thing: good, solid 1950s technology. Our model was big power plants and a larger grid, because that is what worked for America… and …Japan and …Germany. We must not prepare for the next battle with the tools of the last. Dan Nolan

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Pike's Peek in to Military Power: The Encyclopedia of DOD Energy

If you are in or have any intention of entering the DOD energy field, you must read the new report by Pike Research. According to their website, Pike Research is “a market research and consulting firm that provides in-depth analysis of global clean technology markets.” The report entitled “Renewable Energy for Military Applications”, like all research efforts, is a snapshot in time. The data call cutoff date was Jan 2011. That being said it is the most comprehensive examination of everything related to DOD energy. There are a couple of minor inconsistencies and omissions, but this is still the most encyclopedic compilation of DOD energy data that I have seen.

The report focuses on the mandates for and development of renewable energy technologies within the DOD. Additionally it provides a "moment in time" view of current energy use, supply topics, financial mechanisms and legislative/administrative mandates. It does not try to reach conclusions but provides the facts necessarily to look at this potentially huge market with intelligence.

Pike Research “concentrates on the wide array of emerging renewable energy technologies presently competing for incorporation into mainstream activities". They discuss energy conservation actions suggest as part of the movement toward LEED certification, insulation measures for forward operating bases, retrofits for military installations and cyber security and other cleantech markets.

Pike provides the facts; interpretation is left up to the readers. Definitely worth the investment if one choose to engage in this most rapidly evolving segment of the energy market. See you there! Dan Nolan

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Ultimate Operator on Operational Energy: Petraeus Speaks

The Commander, International Security Assistance Force/U.S. Forces – Afghanistan, and soon to be CIA Director, came up on the net about operational energy this month. On 7 July GEN David H. Petraeus signed a memo directing commanders throughout his organization to make energy informed, risk based decisions on aviation and vehicle operations, base camp design, power and water generation and distribution. They are also charged with rapid technology transition of new fuel savings methods and the pursuit of existing, proven alternative energy options that reduce the use and transport of fuel (Power Surety Task Force Mission!). Finally commanders must ensure energy is considered in requirements and oversight of contracts.

To assist in this process, General Petraeus is establishing an office charged with improving operational capabilities through changes in how Coalition forces use energy. This means that changes in energy use will be required of all the partners in the Coalition. If anyone is using energy more profligately than the Yanks, I will be stunned.

General Petraeus is the first person in uniform, in contact, above the grade of BG (sorry, Steve) to publicly recognize the impact of energy on operations. The Services have all spoken up (more or less), but now the Warfighters, as part of a Coalition and a Combatant Command, have issued direction. If commanders are being given the responsibility then, presumably, they will be given the authorities (resources). The only thing left to do is establish the accountability process and, again, presumably, the office GEN Petraeus is establishing will do that. We will continue to watch for developments. Dan Nolan

Thursday, June 16, 2011

DOEPP Deal Part 3: DOD Assessment of Services Budgets for Operational Energy

We wrote earlier about the long awaited report from the Assistant Secretary of the Defense for Operational Energy Plans and Programs (ASDOEPP) certifying the Services budgets as regards Operational Energy. As previously, mentioned all Service budgets were certified against their own strategies. The last post covered the Army's certification. The following is a synopsis of the findings by Component for the Navy, Marines and Air Force.

The Air Forces’ plan is different from the other Services in that they seek “other than Materiel solutions such as changes in Doctrine, Organization, Training, Leadership and Education, Personnel, and Facilities as the means to attain their goals. They are using techniques such as: optimizing aircraft centers of gravity, diplomatic cleared routing, European routing, and aircraft crew ratios which should provide $59M in savings in 2012. The use of simulators garners a whopping $368M. The USAF hopes to save a total of $494M over FY2012. A half a billion dollars in savings will turn heads, even in the Pentagon. What the Air Force knows is that the cheapest, cleanest, most secure electron is the one you don’t use.

As for their plan to purchase 50% of their domestic aviation fuel via alternative fuel blend at cost competitive rates, the only thing lacking is alternative fuel blend at cost competitive rates. If Solazyme or Amyris has to compete with Shell Aviation, Texaco or Chevron I am not sure of their chances. And if I am a big fuel provider, how much loss can I take before the other guy breaks? The Air Force has done a great job of certifying their aircraft, but getting alternative fuels that can compete on cost maybe a stretch. As long as all fuels are receiving subsidies, to include fossil fuels, the playing field is not level. Of course if the price of oil continues to go up, all bets are off!

The Air Force is green on Increasing Supply and Expeditionary Base Efforts. Reducing Demand gets a yellow rating due to challenges in monitoring and measuring efforts and work on improving legacy systems. Their budget for FY2012 is certified.

This annual report has the potential to provide a guiding hand for the Services in a way that is not intrusive or dictatorial. What is not clear is what would happen if a Service budget is not certified in accordance with a DoD strategy? If the forthcoming DoD Operational Energy strategy assigns responsibilities, and provides authorities (resources) then this report will serve as the accountability mechanism. If there is no penalty for failure to certify, then all they will have is hard feelings or a report that is all rosy. Neither outcome is useful. Dan Nolan

DOEPP Deal Part 2: DOD Assessment of Services Energy Budget Budgets for Operational Energy

We wrote earlier about the long awaited report from the Assistant Secretary of the Defense for Operational Energy Plans and Programs (ASDOEPP) certifying the Services budgets as regards Operational Energy. The timing of the release of this report is interesting. It was released on a Friday afternoon. For strategic communicators this is the prime time for issuing bad news. Have used the technique myself. The important thing is to then follow up with something to distract, such as the Operational Energy Strategy released the following Tuesday. Well played.

As previously, mentioned all Service budgets were certified against their own strategies. The following is a synopsis of the findings by Component. We split this post up into three section because of my attention span. Part 3 will be up tomorrow.

The Army’s budget was compared against their 2009 Army Energy Security Implementation Strategy. The ASDOEPP toyed with the idea of comparing it with the draft U.S. Army Power and Energy Strategy White Paper, dated April 1, 2010, but decided that it didn’t qualify as the Army’s stated strategy. Plus it in no way reflected what was contemplated in the FY2012 budget.

The Army has five energy security goals:

  • ESG 1. Reduced Energy Consumption
  • ESG 2. Increased Energy Efficiency Across Platforms and Facilities
  • ESG 3. Increased Use of Renewable/Alternative Energy
  • ESG 4. Assured Access to Sufficient Energy Supply
  • ESG 5. Reduced Adverse Impacts on the Environment

Only 3 goals were seen as applicable to operational energy: ESGs 1, 2 & 3. The FY2012 Army budget was then examined to determine how well it supported the execution of these three goals. These were the assessment tools for this budget certification process.

For the most part, the Army was given credit for ongoing, long planned, acquisition programs begun well before their strategy was published and treated as supportive of the strategy. Programs such as the Advanced Mobile Medium Power Sources (AMMPS) that is to replace the current generation of Tactical Quiet Generators and the Hi Power program funded by the Director of Defense Research and Engineering in 2008, were examples of goal supporting programs. Also TARDEC’s Ground Vehicle Power and Mobility Integration program and the Rotorcraft Propulsion and Drives efforts received recognition for their support for ESG2. In fact, of the $212M identified as supportive of operational energy issues, 81% of the funding was in Science and Technology efforts.

Three other endeavors were noted as supportive of the Army’s stated energy security goals: foaming tents, the Tactical Fuel Managers Defense (TFMD) system and the Smart and Green Energy (SAGE) effort. The report goes on to note that the Army did not provide information on the tent foaming (ask Steve Anderson), SAGE will not be funded in 2012 and that no sustainment cost are programed in FY2012 for TFMD. Apparently, if you are not an acquisition based effort in the Army, you will have a glorious, but short life span.

The Army was rated as yellow in ESG 1&2 and green in ESG 3. No explanation of what the color code means was provided. Perhaps DOD should take a tip from DHS decision to drop color codes. It appears that they are grading on a pass/fail basis anyway and, in the case of the Army, energy leadership is defined as figuring out which way the crowd is going and getting in front of it. The Army should have been recognized for its Net Zero efforts on its power projection platforms (installations), but since there are no budget lines associated with it, there is no recognition. Their budget for FY2012 is certified.

Will post the Navy, Marine and Air Force certifications tomorrow. More to follow. Dan Nolan

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Operational Energy Strategy: Bumper Stickers for All

The Department of Defense rolled out its Operational Energy Strategy yesterday with all the impact of a low velocity marshmallow. The Joint Publication 1-02, Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms sets forth standard US military and associated terminology to encompass the joint activity of the Armed Forces of the United States. This document defines strategy ”as a prudent idea or set of ideas for employing the instruments of national power in a synchronized and integrated fashion to achieve theater, national, and/or multinational objectives”. It would be expected that a strategy published by DoD would conform to this characterization. This document does not.

What was released yesterday was a rehash of recent military energy history and bumper stickers. It was due to Congress on 21 December 2010. Six month later we get a missive signed by the DepSecDef (guess the SecDef was still on the farewell tour) that the National Journal summed up by saying, “Right now, the energy strategy consists of a new office, a new way of thinking about energy, and a three-point plan laid out in an 11-point memo that’s full of slogans but short on specifics”

The strategy promises an implementation plan within 90 days that ”will include specific targets and timelines for achieving this strategy in the near-, mid-, and long-term”. The strategy and implementation plan will be updated annually and will serve as the basis for the ASDOEPP’s annual certification of Service operational energy budgets. So, what are the “set of ideas for employing the instruments of national power in a synchronized and integrated fashion to achieve theater, national, and/or multinational objectives”? The three bumper stickers read: More fight, less fuel; More options, less risk; and More capability, less cost. Let’s take a closer look at what the strategy requires of the Services..

The first Strategic Goal is to “reduce the demand for energy in military operations”. The strategy requires the Services to:
  • Document actual and projected energy consumption in current and planned military operations
  • Accelerate and adopt technological and management innovations from across the “DOTMLPF” spectrum to reduce demand and improve efficiency

The second Strategic Goal is to “diversifying and securing military energy supplies (in order to) improve the ability of our forces to get the energy they require to perform their missions”. The strategy requires the Services to:
  • Diversify and develop new energy sources suitable for expeditionary use, to include efforts aimed at developing the capacity of partner nations in support of U.S. strategic goals
  • Assure reliable energy supply for critical operational missions at fixed installations

Finally, the third Strategic Goal is to ensure that “energy consumption and the associated costs and logistics challenges are taken into account in all decisions about strategic planning, structuring, equipping, and posturing the force. The strategy requires the Services to:
  • Analyze and report the primary “lessons learned” from current operations to inform future planning, to include the tactical, operational, and strategic consequences
  • Apply those lessons to future military force development
  • Demonstrate civilian and military leadership commitment to incorporating energy analysis and planning

The strategy consists of telling the Services to figure out how they are using energy and then use less; get more sources (types?) of energy and plan for energy in force development. In the entire document there is only one mention of the fully burdened cost of energy and no mention of energy as a key performance parameter. Both of these are required by law but with caveats.

The promise of the implementation plan is tantalizing. Targets and timelines are not enough; the Department has those and each Service has their own. What are required are measureable objectives for each goal with associated authorities (resources) and a belly button for each objective so that there is someone to be held accountable. Then, when the ASDOEPP provides their annual report to Congress on Service budget certification for operational energy, they will have a set of measurable objectives against which to measure. Responsibility, Authority and Accountability: my bumper sticker. Dan Nolan

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

It's Here

This just in, hot off the presses from Sharon Burke and crew (from the office of the ASD of Operational Energy Plans and Programs - there's no more DOEPP). Titled: "Energy for the Warfighter: Operational Energy Strategy", it's a first-of-its-kind document.

I'm sure Dan's going to have a thing or two to say about this report, but wanted to get it in front of DOD Energy Blog readers asap so you can form your own opinions.

You can download it by clicking on the cover image or by clicking HERE. Enjoy.

And in case you were wondering ... yes, I am trying to win the 2011 blog post title brevity award with this. Let's see if someone dares to try a shorter one.

Monday, June 13, 2011

DOEPP Deal: DOD Assessment of Services Budgets for Operational Energy

The long awaited report from the Assistant Secretary of the Defense for Operational Energy Plans and Programs (ASDOEPP) hit the streets late last week. As part of her statutory duties, Ms. Burke is required to:

review the DoD Components' proposed budgets and not later than January 31 of the preceding fiscal year for which the budgets are proposed, provide the Secretary of Defense a report containing the Director's analysis, comments, and findings of operational energy aspects of the proposed budgets as well as the certification of the Director regarding whether the proposed budget is adequate for implementation of the operational energy strategy.

The report evaluates the Services’ FY2011 budgets for operational energy in regard to their own stated strategy. In the coming years that assessment will be against the DOD Operational Energy Strategy, but since that had not been published by the due date of this report, the ASD used the Components’ own plans as the point of comparison. This is a gut check: are you walking the walk or just talking the talk.

Across the board, the Services proposed FY 2011 budgets were certified as “adequate for implementation of the operational energy aspects of their energy strategy”, with the following caveats.

1. DOD doesn’t know how energy is being consumed at the point of use. They know how much was delivered, but how it was used is unclear. What did that truck do? What was that generator powering? Was that air craft doing close support, logistics or recce?

2. Significant opportunities to improve energy efficiency in legacy mobility assets are believed to exist, but have not been identified and, therefore, not adequately funded.

3. 58% percent (down from 62% in the original version of the report) of the budget goes to research, development, technology and engineering. There are mature, shovel ready technologies on the commercial shelf, ready to go and more funds should be allocated to those efforts, rather than the long term, routine, science and technology acquisition path.

4. Energy costs are underestimated in acquisition analysis. Operational energy concerns are not addressed in models and simulations. The fully burdened cost of energy and energy as a key performance parameter were supposed to solve this. Use them.

We will provide an analysis of the report’s assessment of each of the Services. I think you will see that the ASD, OEPP was grading on a curve this year. The long awaited DOD operational energy strategy will be rolled out this week by DepSecDef Lynn and Ms. Burke. More to follow on that as it develops. Dan Nolan

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Conference Alert: Joint Operations for Energy

The Army and Air Force are joining together for this year's energy forums. Scheduled for 19-20 July at the Hyatt Regency, Crystal City, Arlington, VA, registration is now open here.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Energy, Kevin Geiss points out that this effort shows the Services coming together to share resources and knowledge. The joint session will also cut down the travel requirements for those who usually attend both forums. They will also be able to bring in speakers from DOE, the White House and Congress with out double tapping those busy folks for separate events. Draft agenda is online now. The Navy will have their forum in October.

Of course, there is no free lunch and the cost for this event is about $500 for non government attendees. If, like many small businesses, the price tag for travel, fee and hotel are outside your budget, feel free to pass your questions to us here and we will try to get answers for you and publish them in a follow up blog. For those who can attend, see you there! Dan Nolan

Monday, June 6, 2011

Energy Efficient Congressmen Add Tasks for Operational Energy

In a previous post I mentioned that the current National Defense Authorization Act for FY2012 under consideration by Congress has a provision that will allow the Pentagon to purchase alternative fuels that produce greater carbon emission than conventional fuels in the refinement process, contrary to the requirements of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. Now another couple of provisions have been added that actually require DOD to do what they have already said they would do…but have not quite done.

Representatives Blumenauer (picture), Connolly, Hinchey, Capps and Welch have added two amendments (#115 and #150) that require that the DoD consider energy efficiency when purchasing warzone structures like tents, and to evaluate combat-zone energy efficiency programs and make recommendations on how to deploy them to further reduce risks to supply convoys.

Essentially, Congress is requiring DOD to use the fully burdened cost of fuel (FBCF) and energy efficiency as a key performance parameter (KPP) to evaluate warzone structures as yet unprocured and to evaluate energy efficiency programs that reduce fuel resupply risks. That is, unless someone has a better idea than FBCF and KPPs. The gang at Natick Soldier Center is charged with the procurement of deployable structures, the US Army Corps of Engineers works the requirements for follow on structures like Seahuts, et al and the Combatant Commanders establish standards via document like the Sandbook. Fortunately, the Department has an agent charged with operational energy, so these requirements will fall on the shoulders of the ASD, OEP&P.

It will be up to the Operational Energy Plans and Programs office to figure how to cut across the bureaucratic morass and get shelters that protect the occupants from the elements, support the mission and, only then, select from among alternatives that demonstrate themselves to be the most energy efficient. The energy efficiency of alternative solutions is already an optional requirement in the acquisition process. This provision will make it required for shelters and will affect the next generation of deployable structures, several years down the line. This is where the second provision comes into play.

There are a number of energy efficiency programs that are being tried at the local level. Now it will be incumbent on DoD to evaluate those programs for recommending their proliferation or termination. Whether it is cotton oil to fuel or spray foam tents, the OEP&P will have their work cut out. Hopefully, the Congressmen (and woman) have funded the mandates. Otherwise these provisions will go the way of all visions without resources….hallucination.