Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween DOD: Great Microgrid Primer from the SPIDERS team

DOD's Smart Power Infrastructure Demonstration for Energy Reliability and Security (SPIDERS microgrid program) prime integrator Burns & McDonnell has produced an outstanding white paper for anyone wanting to better understand the why's and how's of microgrids.

Overall it's a great paper, but two parts jumped out at me immediately for their value to decision makers.  Here you go, the first is from a section on mission drivers:
By allowing multiple generation assets to provide power for a common load, microgrids greatly increase both the reliability of power and its efficiency of generation. Typically, the greatest beneficiaries of microgrids are customers with large, mission critical facilities or large power consumers in areas prone to frequent and/or prolonged outages (e.g. hurricane zones). Although facilities like these have utilized on site generation in the past, they are starting to migrate towards microgrids due to the many examples of single generators failing during prolonged outages thereby leaving the entire mission in jeopardy.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Time for a US Oil Change?

Underway replenishment

On the heals of last week's post on China surpassing the US to become the biggest importer, two recent articles ponder oil's place in our world, particularly in light of how it was used as a weapon against the US during the Arab-Israeli War.

The first, Does OPEC Still have the US over a Barrel? brings the events of those days back vividly.  If you're old enough, this will conjure up a scary memory. If you're young enough, this may sound like a Tom Clancy (RIP) novel, but it was far too real for those managing the crisis in 1973:
“I’m sitting at my desk at the Pentagon,” recalls James Schlesinger, then secretary of defense, “and a cable comes in, and it reads: ‘In accordance with the orders of His Majesty, we are obliged to cut off all oil supplies to your 6th Fleet and to your forces in western Europe. Signed [Saudi oil minister] Zaki Yamani.’ ”

Friday, October 11, 2013

Major Oil Market Shift of Colossal Importance to DOD and DOD Energy Planners

From this morning's WSJ.  You don't need my help to quickly understand how the shift described below will impact US and DOD policymakers in the years ahead.

The article is titled: Middle East Oil Fuels Fresh China-U.S. Tensions and here's an excerpt that boils is down to the essence:
The turnabout has added to tensions because it leaves the U.S. military securing China's growing oil shipments in the region at a time Beijing resists U.S. pressure on it to back American foreign policy in the Middle East.
For years, China and other oil-consuming nations have benefited as Washington spent billions of dollars a year to police choke points like the Strait of Hormuz and other volatile parts of the Middle East to ensure oil flowed around the globe. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

DOD Energy Follies Part 2: Middies, Zoomies, and Toilets in the Desert

Inside the Middie Dome
OK, I don't want to spend much more time on follies. Would much rather accentuate the positive. But based on feedback to the previous follies post, looks like one more is in order.

The most glaring contribution this week, pun intended, came from the Navy again, which for some reason decided to keep its stadium lights all the way on for Saturday's game vs USAFA. In the face of sequestration and the teeth of the partial government shutdown, the Air Force barely had the funds to get its folks to Annapolis.  The Navy, it seems, had money (and watts) to burn.

Friday, October 4, 2013

And Now for Something Completely Different: Navy Energy Follies

The DOD Energy Blog is loaded with posts documenting many cases of USN's forward-thinking energy savings strategies and actions. Now it's time to be fair and balanced. The stories you are about to hear are true (I'm pretty sure).  Some of the names have been changed to protect the innocent. The sources of these anecdotes are in the witness protection program.

The Commander Navy Installations Command (CNIC) has implemented an energy savings policy that rewards program managers to implement game-changing energy conservation measures like:
  • No charging of phones or other PDA’s is allowed in work spaces. (Where outdoor outlets are available, you can charge devices during smoke breaks)
  • Only one coffee pot per building (depending on building size, this could cause catastrophic crew and other employee readiness failures)
  • No air conditioning until it reaches 75F + in the barbershop (resulting in sweaty heads that reduce buzzer and clipper effectiveness)
With these changes in full effect, US and DOD energy autonomy is clearly within reach. Ahem.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

USN: "Save Energy Unless You Can't"

Hat tip to CAPT Jim Goudreau, Dir Navy Energy Coordination Office, for the heads-up on this brief article and apologies for the latency in getting it posted.

The Navy continues to be active in tuning its policies to more fully account for the operational constraints of fuel dependency and the wins that can be derived from more energy efficient systems and energy conserving behaviors.

From the official "Navy Live" blog:
The key ... is that energy-saving practices must evolve from “Save energy when you can” to “Save energy unless you can’t.” Institutionalizing and codifying energy savings throughout the fleet will enable us to continue meeting our national defense mission and fulfilling combatant commander requirements, while conserving vital energy resources and conserving scarce defense dollars that the Navy can apply to other priorities, such as maintenance and modernization.
Short, sweet, and comprehensively applicable to all manner of lifecycle and strategy considerations. You can read the whole post HERE.