Monday, November 28, 2011

Negawatts and Heroes: San Diego Enlists Veterans for Energy Fight.

Energy and climate have made many strange bedfellows. Environmentalists and Marines make common cause because each has a mission vitally impacted by the use of energy. Everyone debates the merits of their favorite renewable or alternative energy production means, but all agree on the importance of the Fifth Fuel. Along with coal, petroleum, and nuclear, renewable/alternative energy make up the four fuels we use most commonly. The fifth fuel is the cleanest, cheapest and most secure of all. It is the electron you do not use through energy conservation.

On Tuesday, 6 December 2011, I will be speaking as part of an all-day series of events coordinated by the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in San Diego, CA, including an evening panel on the USS Midway. The Reuben H. Fleet Science Center “seeks to inspire lifelong learning by furthering the public understanding and enjoyment of science and technology”. The title of the program is “The Military Goes Green: Cutting Back on Fossil Fuel to Save Lives and Billions of Dollars”. It is co-sponsored by “EARTH: The Operators’ Manual”, an NSF-supported education and outreach project focusing on the twin topics of climate change and renewable energy. Check out the link to the website and if you are in SoCal, come by and participate.

In the process of preparing for this event, I was placed in contact with Laura Parsons of the California Center for Sustainable Energy, “a non-profit organization dedicated to creating change for a clean energy future,” a group I’ll be speaking that morning. One of their programs caught my attention and I wanted to share it with you. It is a pilot program funded by DOE “to test Community-Based Social Marketing strategies for encouraging people to do whole-house energy efficiency upgrades”. CCSE is preparing to enter the implementation phase of the program so they were looking for a target audience that would be aware of the implication of energy use, be disciplined enough to carry through with efficiency behavior and would be good representatives of the program. Guess who they picked? Veterans. The program is called the “San Diego Hero Alliance.”

According to Ms. Parsons, the program begins with a small commitment – asking veterans to pledge to do one energy efficient behavior – to bring them into this community of Energy Heroes. Once they self-identify as someone who cares about energy efficiency, the Alliance helps them to take progressive steps to learn more about their home’s energy performance, and ultimately, get a home energy upgrade. The Alliance will assist with tapping into an existing rebate program, to help overcome the cost barriers.

This is a practical and noble program. Using veterans as the stalking horses for focusing on energy efficiency brings continuity and credibility to the program. Helping veterans save on energy bills is principled and decent. One of the major impacts of efficiency programs is that they focus on air tightness standards for structures. With less air infiltration, cool stays cool and warm stays warm. Better still, pollen, moisture, dust and mold are reduced, creating a more health environment for children and other living things.

I wish them much success in this program. In areas where the cost for energy is high, such as Southern California, this makes sense for the utility and the consumer. This truly could be an Alliance of Heroes. Dan Nolan

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Conference Alert – Operational Energy Steals a March

On 23-25 January, the 2012 DoD Energy Conference season will kick off with the 9th Tactical Power Sources Summit at the Hilton Alexandria Mark Center in Alexandria, VA. Goals of the conference are to understand acquisition requirements and technology advancement in mobile and solider power. They have an impressive list of speakers from government and academia. Didn’t see anyone from the ASD, OEPP on the list, but am sure they will attend. 23 Jan is the Alternative Energy Focus Day with seminars on latest technology for operational energy. Should be worth the effort! See you there. Dan Nolan

Energy Efficiency is New Dream Fuel

Not to be confused with the Luc Besson 90's sci fi flick, The Fifth  Element, the Fifth Fuel is neither film nor fuel. Nor is it fossil or renewable.

Rather, it's an abstract concept: it is the fuel (or other energy source) you didn't need to use because you were kicking butt on energy efficiency (EE), having converted your energy operations from a ravenous beast into a lean, mean, energy sipping machine.

If you've been working in the energy sector for longer than a few milliseconds, you'll recognize the name Daniel Yergin (more about him and his most recent book HERE). Also my colleague Dan mentioned this piece in a comment on his most recent post. Well, Yergin just penned a short piece showcasing the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner as a Fifth Fuel exemplar system.

This excerpt from the Yergin article really gets me:
The decision to go for efficiency in the Dreamliner was resulted from a democratic vote that resembled an Iowa presidential caucus. In the early stages of the design process, Boeing invited representatives of 59 airlines to Seattle to take part in an election. There were just two candidates: A new jet that would go 20 percent faster versus a new jet 20 percent more fuel efficient. All in favor of more speed were to walk to one side of the room; all in favor of 20 percent more fuel efficiency, to the other side. It was a rout -- 59 to zero in favor of efficiency.
You might also want to check out "Financing the Fifth Fuel" wherein you'll find references to Duke Energy's CEO, the Mckinsey consultancy, and the mighty Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) making the clear cut business case for, and outlining the steps towards the wider adoption of, the Fifth Fuel energy efficiency concept.

It concludes thusly:
I would expect that ... models ... for financing the fifth fuel will become more commonplace ... as the imperative for more aggressive pursuit of energy efficiency becomes stronger with each passing day. We should begin anticipating that eventually the biggest problem with these approaches will be answering the “too good to be true” perception. After all, who in their right mind would turn down the opportunity to save money instantly, without any cash outlay?
And I conclude with the following question: If the Fifth Fuel is EE, can you name the other four?

Dan and I hope you have a great Thanksgiving. Andy Bochman

Image credit: Boeing

Monday, November 21, 2011

Testing 1, 2, 3: DOD Facilities Energy Test Bed Project Winners for 2012 Announced

575 tried, 27 succeeded. That's less than a 5% acceptance rate ... tougher than getting into Harvard or MIT I think. But well worth the effort, if some of these energy, energy efficiency and energy security strategies pan out.

OSD has just announced its list of approved test bed pilot projects, each one targeting an aspect of facilities energy use improvement. Categories include objectives with terse titles like:
  • Installation of a Nanotechnology Membrane HVAC System
  • Model-Driven Energy Intelligence
  • Sodium-Metal-Halide Battery Energy Storage for DoD Installations
And then there are projects whose backers couldn't, or wouldn't, limit their verbosity:
  • Grid-Interactive Renewable Energy Generation System with DC-Link Battery Storage Integration Capable of Hybrid Microgrid Operation to Increase Energy Security on DoD Installations
Try turning that into an acronym! And finally, technologies that sound like they could double as weapons when not helping improve energy efficiency:
  • Kinetic Super-Resolution Long-Wave Infrared Thermography Diagnostic for Building Envelopes
Sounds a little like ARPA-E territory, doesn't it? Though these technologies are closer to being field-able than the world-changing, very high risk / very high reward projects ARPA-E goes after.

See below for links to more DOD energy test bed information and activities:
  • The full list and a few more details are HERE
  • Installations Energy Test Bed description, HERE, including contact info
  • DOD/EPA/DOE Energy Test Bed symposium coming up next week (11/29-12/1) in DC. Link HERE

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Environmental Entrepreneurs: Making Green by being Green

Last week, Andy and I swapped towns, with Andy headed to DC while I spoke at an event sponsored by Environmental Entrepreneurs in Boston. According to their website, “Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2) is a national community of business leaders who promote sound environmental policy that builds economic prosperity”. The bottomline for E2 IS the bottomline. They seek to influence policy that promotes environmentally sound business practices, but is driven to demonstrate that these are not opposing views, but complementary. Sounds like dangerous "Greenies" to me.

In my presentations I talk about how I got started in the energy industry. In mid 2006, I was working with the Army’s Rapid Equipping Force and was asked to evaluate a Joint Urgent Operational Needs Statement from a Marine General in the Anbar Province of Iraq. The General was asking for a hybrid electric power station. I wondered to myself, “When did the Marines become Birkenstock wearing, tree huggers?”. As it turned out, this was the JUON that accelerated the operational energy movement. It was from, then, Major General Zilmer, Commander USMC Forces, Iraq and it was because the most dangerous thing to do in his area of operation was to drive five gallons of diesel to the Syrian border outposts to run the radios and other electronics. It was a “business” decision. His most precious resources were endangered as a result of the need to power his outposts. That it might have a positive environmental impact was not even mentioned.

This is an example of how business decisions and environmental decision are complimentary and not in opposition. It is the same argument for building energy efficient buildings. The argument is invariable proffered that it is too expensive to build green. This is often heard in DOD circles were one group pays the capital cost and another pays for operations and maintenance. It may cost a nickel more to buy material that conserves energy, but the total life cycle cost usually makes it a no brainer. To quote ,” in what universe did it ever make sense to build a house that wasn’t energy efficient?”.

I sat down with Berl Hartman, the feisty Director of E2 New England. E2 is a virtual organization that prides itself on its independence (politically, economically, etc.). The organization was started in California by a couple of Silicon Valley folks (Bob Epstein and Nicole Lederer) and who figured out that it was possible to be environmentally responsible and economically viable. Pollution is an indicator of an inefficient system and that is bad for business. E2's mantra is making the polluter accountable for the pollution.

E2 serves as a business voice for the environment. When I joked about the Marines being Birkenstock wearing, tree huggers, I wasn’t joking. Any soldier who has ever had to report an oil spill of more than a pint in the motorpool knows what I mean. The military is the biggest bunch of Greenies going. They have to operate in a sustainable manner because they have to use that same training area over and over again. The commitment is manifested by the fact that each of the Services has its own agency such as the Army Environmental Command. DoD has figured out that sustainable operations make sense economically and for security. It is not about right or left, it is about right and wrong.

As the Services move forward with their various energy conservation, distribution and renewable projects, they have indicated that they will reach out to small businesses. For those big firms who will have to find responsible, capable small business partners, head to your local E2 meeting. I am not equating an E2 meeting to some kind of meat market, but….do you come here often? Dan Nolan

Monday, November 14, 2011

Ever Consider having your Installation Whispered?

We've all seen the numbers before. The short version is goes like this: DOD dwarfs Walmart when it comes to number of square feet of buildings owned, maintained, powered, heated and cooled in the USA and elsewhere.

The amount of energy consumed by the world's largest fleet of buildings is enormous, as is the amount of energy wasted due to inefficiencies of every conceivable kind.

Well, there are folks working this challenge, such as my colleague and friend, the mighty Dave Bartlett (pictured, imposingly, above). You care read a bit more about Dave and what he and folks like him do HERE.

As you can imagine, there are cultural as well as technical barriers to work through. Especially for DOD bases that have been able to achieve some good energy savings in recent years and feel like there are no more low hanging energy efficiency fruit to pick, I like this note re: one of IBM's own facilities:
The Rochester campus had recently undergone a comprehensive energy audit resulting in double-digit energy conservation. It seemed highly unlikely to the facilities operations professionals at the campus that anything more could be done. “They (facilities operations personnel) told me that they were already doing everything that could be done to save energy,” said Bartlett. “But we achieved a 3 percent energy reduction in the first few months, and within nine months we managed to get an eight percent reduction in energy use. The work is also estimated to reduce maintenance costs for the site by 5-10 percent,” he added, “and that is real gravy on top of the energy savings.”
If this is right, there are a ton of high ROI opportunities out there for the Services to go after. Makes me want to shout! aab

Photo Credit: Association for Facilities Engineering

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Motion for Better Utility Bill Content

Sorry if I confused you with School House Rock Bill, but he's a personal favorite, and I plug him whenever I can. And I'm not referring to one of the myriad energy bills coursing through ... or foundering on the rocks of the Hill these days.

No. Rather, with thanks to Mike Aimone, we've got this electric sector news for you.

This is low tech tech, easy-to-do stuff: the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) has just put out a report saying that your bill, your monthly electric utility bill that is, could do much more than it probably does today.

In particular, the ACEEE contents that 3 key (and relatively easeee to implement) elements could do a lot to improve consumer usage patterns:
  • pro-efficiency messaging
  • educational tips and contacts
  • peer comparisons
On behalf of service members living on and off base, CONUS DOD installations could and I'd say should lobby their local utilities to make these updates. A longer summary page and the full report is available HERE. Andy Bochman

Image credit: Central Washington University

Monday, November 7, 2011

In Certain Scenarios, DOD Would be Better Fueled by Fuel Cells

DOD needn't wait to start benefitting from new fuel cell capabilities, and three use cases in particular are the most promising for existing commercial fuel cell tech, according to a report just out from LMI:
  1. Distributed power generation - as in for base load power, as well as heating and cooling needs, can  be provided by fuel cell systems. This gets you energy efficiency gains and reduced: operating costs, building energy intensity, and emissions
  2. Backup power - here the benefits are improved reliability, lower maintenance, longer life, lighter weight, and lower emissions
  3. Unmanned vehicles - aerial and otherwise. Improved capabilities like extended range, reduced maintenance, and more are are possible
Of course, all of these benefits add up to improved energy security: bases less dependent on their local grids and operational forces that can more readily power themselves without waiting for the next convoy to come over the pass.

It's not DOD's mission to develop or incubate new technologies.  Far from it. But arguably, by showing how young technologies can solve its specialized problems, it paves the way for broader applications, within and external to the military.

Click HERE to read the LMI report: Beyond Demonstration: The Role of Fuel Cells in DoD's Energy Strategy. Andy Bochman

Friday, November 4, 2011

AIETF Big Reveal is Big Deal: Don't Forget the Gators

Ok, this is a long one, so get another cup of coffee and get comfy.

Yesterday, on the banks of the Potomac, the Army fell in at the Navy Yard in D.C. to unveil their plan to expediting large, renewable projects energy projects in and around their post, camps and stations. Some 250 companies sent over 300 people (not each!) to hear the hopeful news. In the impressive Admiral Gooding Conference center, with video screen every seven inches, the Army did not disappoint.

The White House sent Nancy Sutely, the Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality threw out the first pitch with a few softballs about DoD energy use, President Obama’s Executive Order on Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance and Fort Irwin Soldiers deploying with foam tents (???). The fact that she was citing an EO issued over two years ago was a sad reflection on the fact that we lack a national energy policy. That the White House was there was impressive; their message was not.

Ms. Sutely was followed by Katherine Hammack, ASA, IE&E. Ms. Hammack had a multi-media presentation highlighting the progress the Army has made in Astro Turf ® and waterless urinals in the desert. While I poke fun, the video is worth seeing and will be available on line some where I am sure. The real point of her presentation was to introduce the team and the plan for the Army’s Energy Initiative Task Force. It kicked off with a video of the Secretary of the Army, the Honorable John McHugh announcing the EITF at GovEnergy in August. The first few seconds of that video lauds Ms. Hammack’s leadership and she was obviously uncomfortable with that, but then segued in to the announcement itself. In the announcement McHugh said the TF would be operational by 15 September and it was. Hammack then turned it over to Jon Powers, the fresh-faced Director of Outreach for the TF, who was MC’ing the affair and she Ms. Sutely and beat a hasty retreat. Always someplace else to be!

Next up was Richard Kidd, DASA, E&S. Mr. Kidd was sporting a walking cast acquired in a touch football injury administered by his seven year old son. As adorable as that is, if you don’t learn to stiff arm, bad things happen. DASA Kidd recognized the commitment of industry to this effort. By his calculation, given the number of folks in the room and typical Washington billing hours, industry plunked down about $180K in opportunity costs to be there that day. He also recognized that in order to attract the $7.1 billion in investment necessary to achieve the aggressive goal of 25% renewable energy consumption by 2025, the Army was going to have to behave differently.

In the good ole’ days, the Army issued an RFP, selected a vendor and paid for whatever commodity or services was required. For this effort, the Army must attract industry and entice them to invest in programs that will “Secure Army installations with energy that is clean, reliable and affordable”. This is the stated vision of the TF and it is telling. I know what word parsing goes on in “vision casting“ sessions, but word order matter. It would seem that energy security and mission accomplishment (reliability) is more important than affordability which clearly trumps clean. More to follow on this. Mr. Kidd then introduced John Lushetsky, the new Executive Director of the TF.

Mr. Lushetsky, a DOE alum like Kidd, brings impressive credentials to the job. With only three years’ experience in Federal government, he may be in for a bit of a shock facing the Army bureaucracy, but his much greater experience with industry and multiple business and engineering degrees he might be the right guy for the job. Lushetsky introduced the rest of his team: Kathy Ahsing, Planning; Al King, Execution and Jon Powers, Outreach (Strat Comms). They also have a detailed lawyer from the office of General Council to make sure they color inside the lines. The well-coiffed, Stan Lee (ok, a little jealous) from the Corps of Engineers rounds out the team. Why COE? Because that is where the plan comes in.

The TF plans to let an RFP in early 2012, fronted by the Huntsville office of the COE. In the Source Sought released in June the Corps said, “The U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center in Huntsville (CEHNC), Alabama intends to solicit and award multiple, indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity (ID/IQ) contracts for use in competing and awarding Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) task orders”. The RFP will be for a Multiple Award Task Order Contracting (MATOC) for power purchase agreements supported by enhanced use leases. The goal is to award that contract by early 2013 and then go after twenty three, currently identified projects almost nationwide. The southeastern United States is notably absent in the gang of 23, with only Fort Bragg as the token representative. You wonder if that is a function of local utility requirements or no good ideas. The utilities will play an enormous role in this effort.

The indication that the Army gets this is a new game and that they must now attract investment vice pay the bills was the announcement of the intent to lift some of the burden of NEPA. The National Environmental Policy Act makes federal agencies integrate environmental impacts into their decision about proposed actions. The Environmental Impact Statement is a painful, but responsible process. If you build outside the gate, the State may not require the EIS; the Federal government does. The EITF proposes to use the Army Environmental Command to conduct do the EIS, relieve industry of this time and cost burden. Good luck, Colonel Kimmell. His boss, MG Al Aycock was in attendance, but did not speak. Clearly, IMCOM is on board. That is a big deal.

One of the tidbits tossed out was that the Army intends to keep some of the RECs. This will allow the Army to take credit, literally, for consuming RE, but could affect the ability to get financing. We will wait and see the impact of this.

The finale was a marathon question and answer session. One of the things the TF has figured out is that communications will be the key to success. After engaging about forty minutes of questioning from the throng, Power announced that the TF will soon have a link on their site to allow industry to set up appointments to visit the team and share ideas. As painful and tedious as this might be for the folks tasked to take these meetings, no one can complain about not having access. This is right out of the Information Operations handbook. I wonder what Redleg came up with the idea?

So now we will be able to access ESPCs and UESC for energy conservation (and some RE), the MATOC for large (10MW or greater) for renewable energy. RFP in early 12, award in early 13, then off to the races. So where is the gap?

The gap is in true energy security provided by smart grid technology. Conserving energy is hugely important; that is always the first step. RE is laudable, achievable and a terrific goal. That being said, unless there is a capacity to store intermittent energy, to decouple load from source and to provide the physical/cyber security necessary in a local distribution system, you do not have energy security. If the local utility can switch off the power generation, there is no energy security. When asked about this, Mr. Kidd indicated that it was not part of the EITF charter. I respectfully suggest they rethink that charter.

It will be difficult, but not impossible, to get third party financing for secure distribution systems alone. The choices are to incorporate them into these large RE projects or get funding to install them separately. The meager ECIP budget (about $135M in FY2012 Budget) can put a dent in the need, but cannot begin to address energy security. It is important to remember that EITF is there to drain the swamp (energy security), something a Gator like Mr. Lushetsky should understand. More to follow as it develops. Great start, Army!

Also want to welcome Andy back. His technical expertise and balance approach will be a welcome counter point to my ravings. Glad to be collaborating again! Dan Nolan

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Return of The Thing That Wouldn't Leave

There's an old SNL skit in which a character played by John Belushi (RIP) is spending a pleasant evening in the modest home of Bill Murray and Jane Curtin. As the evening winds down, though, the Belushi guy doesn't know when it's time to leave and keeps rummaging through the couple's apartment in search of more and more snacks and beverages, even while Jane Curtin's character starts doing big-time Hitchcockian screams.

That skit, called "The Thing that Wouldn't Leave" reminds me of me and the DOD Energy Blog (we call it DEB for short). After starting another blog and running it for nearly 3 years, I'm returning to work on what any right-minded person who's come here over the last year would consider The House that Nolan Built.

Well, Dan and I have talked, and he's going to continue to deliver his incredible analysis and insight about how DOD's myriad energy initiatives are and are not working. Some might call him pushy, but I like to think of him as persistent, and depending on where you sit, I bet you're glad he is the way he is. Pretty darn funny too, for an Army guy.

My new role, which hopefully will leave you more often informed and enlightened versus screaming in disbelief, will be to focus on the emerging technologies that may help DOD get where it needs to go.

Along these lines you'll see my first posts on fuel cells and smarter buildings. Renewable energy and energy efficiency aren't new concepts any more ... the novelty has worn off.  Now it's time to drill down and get pragmatic (vs. idealistic) on what solutions provide the biggest energy security bangs for our increasingly limited bucks.

Hope you enjoy the new format ... I have a feeling it's going to quite nutritious. And say, do you know if there are any Fritos left?  Andy Bochman

Photo credit: SNL Archives

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Center Stage for Big Power: AEITF Summit

Quick reminder for all DOD Energy Fans that the Army Energy Initiatives Task Force Summit is tomorrow, 3 November 2011 from 0900-1300 at the Admiral Gooding Center, Navy Yard in Washington, D.C.. We will hear from the White House and Army Energy folks on the way ahead for large, 3rd party financed, renewable energy projects to help the Army meet its goal. They are looking for some $7.1 Billion in investment over the next 10 years, so bring your checkbooks!

If you are unable to attend due to location or turnout, please send me your questions. I am looking forward to the discussion on thorny issues such as Army's authority for long term Power Purchase Agreements and how to get around utility rules for offering PPAs on a periodic basis that might not match with the contracting cycle. Should be interesting.

On another note, I have heard from several of you on the Chinese water bottle issue. I am fully aware that vendors at the Pentagon are not required to follow the strictures of the Buy American Act. I was having a bit of ironic fun with the Scouting community. I apologize for anyone who does not get my sense of humor. Keep those cards and letters coming! Dan Nolan