Air Force moving forward on more efficient energy

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Amaani Lyle
  • Air Force Public Affairs Agency
The Air Force has taken a service-wide approach to create a robust, resilient and ready energy security posture, said the deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for energy at the Air Force Association's 2011 Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition here Sept. 20.

Mission requirements include about 900 Air Mobility Command flights daily and additional intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations -- all spurring a greater focus on energy use in aviation, installations and acquisitions and technology, Dr. Kevin Geiss explained.

"The current economic environment highlights that energy offers the Air Force opportunity to become a more efficient, more effective fighting force," Geiss said. "By decreasing our reliance on imported oil and increasing our use of alternative and renewable sources of energy, we can enable our warfighters, expand operational effectiveness and enhance national security."

With an annual purchase of some 2.5 billion gallons of fuel, totaling about $8 billion, the Air Force is the largest consumer of energy in the federal government, he said. To decrease overall demand for petroleum-based fuels, Air Force officials have sought to instill fuel efficiency into daily operations.

"We're certifying our fleet to fly on alternative fuels; we've already certified 99 percent of our fleet to fly unrestricted operations on synthetic fuels without compromising safety or airworthiness, and we've moved on to certifying our fleet on bio-fuels, which we should complete by 2013," Geiss said.

Other measures include Air Mobility Command's fuel tracker; monthly data indicates the command hauls about 27 percent more cargo using only about three percent more fuel, as compared to 2006.

On installations, the Air Force has made energy efficiency a priority for several years, Geiss asserted.

"In 2010, about 6.4 percent of our electricity ... comes from renewable sources," Geiss said. "We've reduced the energy intensity, that's consumption per square foot, in our facilities by 14.8 percent, as compared to a 2003 baseline."

The Air Force is currently operating more than 80 on-base renewable projects on 43 bases, investing nearly $85 million over the next five years on more than a dozen on-base projects, in pursuit of about a thousand megawatts of renewable power, Geiss added. To create energy assurance in the expeditionary environment, Air Force officials are pursuing the basic expeditionary airfield resource, or BEAR program, to tap into indigenous resources such as solar and wind energy.

Geiss also noted, the engine behind such great advancements in energy consumption is the acquisition community.

"Whether developing and procuring technology that increases a range in endurance, or building new capacity into existing and emerging weapons platforms, we look to our acquisition and technology experts to position us to meet emerging threats and provide mission assurance," Geiss said.

The Air Force Research Laboratory based at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, is studying engine and airframe design to gain greater mileage out of every gallon of fuel, he added.

"Adaptive Versatile Engine Technology, or ADVENT, will combine high-performance capability of military engines with fuel efficiency of engines used in the commercial industry," Geiss said.

These developments, Geiss explained, will help to support reduction and reliance on foreign sources of energy and create a larger market for clean engine technologies that support the Air Force's mission at home and abroad.