The U.S. Air Force has announced a comprehensive energy infrastructure upgrade project at Hurlburt Field outside Destin, Florida. The project will upgrade infrastructure and support critical power and grid stability needs at the base. Through the $22.6 million Energy Savings Performance Contract (ESPC), the project will reduce the base’s energy costs by 17.7%. Further the project will fetch annual savings of $1.5 million over a period of 22 years.
Home of the Air Commandos since 1961, Hurlburt Field today accommodates the 1st Special Operations Wing (1 SOW), Headquarters Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC), an Air Force major command, and a number of associate units. The base was named for First Lieutenant Donald Wilson Hurlburt.
Hurlburt Field is home to more than 300 buildings. The recent energy upgrades include 240 kW canopy solar PV and a 265kWh battery energy storage system with microgrid controls. The project was designed to ensure reliable HVAC operations while improving operational resilience at the base. Full-width LED lighting; improved transformer, improved power management control systems; and replacement of legacy controllers and software to support compliance with USAF cybersecurity requirements are some other improvements that were part of the recent upgrade.
In the face of an escalating climate crisis, federal agencies face unique and significant challenges when it comes to balancing the need for 24X7X365 energy reliability and mission readiness. The upgrades were made to improve pilot living conditions while helping to minimize the impact on the maintenance squadron and increasing focus on other mission-critical tasks.
“Between both our location along the Gulf of Mexico and the global responsibilities of our AFSOC mission, it is imperative to ensure the security and stability of our network,” said Steve Loken, Deputy Hurlburt Field Civil Engineering Squadron. “The fact that we can implement energy conservation measures and renewables to self-finance these improvements mean we can align with climate action goals in the coming years.”
Whether it is military or air force, today’s expeditionary forces require steady, reliable energy sources to power worldwide missions.
Diverse field environments and a move towards cost-effective, resilient, and agile energy supplies are driving a fresh look at the way the Defense Department powers a mission and the Air Force Research Laboratory’s leads the innovation from the front. Progress over the past year has been enormous, resulting in new cross-service collaborations, successful equipment demonstrations, and more.
You will be amazed to know that in addition to providing a reliable, steady source of power, the team at APTO is also exploring solar panels that can be shot by a bullet and still remain operational.
The military’s zeal for renewable power has its own broad impacts on energy contractors, generating hundreds of millions in contracts for solar companies and helping to reduce fuel consumption by the world’s largest single petroleum buyer. The armed forces nearly doubled renewable power generation between 2011 and 2015, according to a Department of Defense report.
The military’s push into alternative energy started under Republican President George W. Bush in 2007, when he signed a law requiring the Pentagon to get 25 percent of the electricity for its buildings from renewable energy by 2025.
The effort accelerated under President Barack Obama, who required the Army, Air Force, and Navy to each deploy 1 gigawatt of renewable power and directed the Army to open a lab developing energy technologies for combat vehicles.
Efforts to decrease energy consumption at installations include gradually replacing some non-tactical fleet vehicles with hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and alternative fuel vehicles, reducing engine idling, developing solar installations at some forts and bases, and concluding power purchase agreements for wind and solar energy. These efforts have borne fruit, but the US Forces have room for more reductions.
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