Reconsidering Energy Use in 2013

By Rear Adm. Kevin Slates
Director, Energy & Environmental Readiness Division

Given the current fiscal environment, I’ve been thinking a lot about energy and what I can do, and hoping you and your command have ideas about how the Navy can use energy smarter as we navigate recent budgetary issues.

What can you do and how will you think about energy differently this year?  We want to hear your good ideas —what individuals can do and what we, the Navy, can help with.  Send your ideas to us online at Energy Efficiency Ideas. We are waiting to hear from you.

 Energy Ideas


You know how important it is to turn off lights, computers and equipment when they’re not in use.  These simple actions and behavior changes, along with new technologies, really do reduce energy use and can make a big difference—but we still need your help.  New technologies take time and money to develop and install, but changing our behavior to save energy in our daily jobs —just like we do at home—can make a difference now.  We need every Sailor, civilian and family member on our team to view energy as a vital resource that enables our combat capability—not something we just take for granted.

Last year, the entire nation braced against rising fuel costs.  Increases in petroleum prices created a $500 million increase in fuel costs for the Department of the Navy.  That’s half a billion dollars that could have gone to maintenance, new equipment or training.  That number could have been much smaller if we had an affordable alternative to fossil fuels or were efficient enough to avoid using that fuel in the first place.

Another example that put energy in perspective was Superstorm Sandy.  Many of us in the northeastern United States were affected by the storm last fall, which knocked out power for millions of people for weeks.  The storm was a stark reminder of just how dependent we all are on the commercial power grid for our basic comforts and to support our missions.

In 2012, the Navy demonstrated that we can successfully operate and carry on our mission while relying on alternative and renewable energy sources.  In July, during the Rim of the Pacific  exercise in Hawaii, we demonstrated the “Great Green Fleet,” a carrier strike group fueled by alternative sources of energy.  During the Great Green Fleet demonstration, Navy ships and aircraft were powered by a 50/50 blend of biofuel and conventional fuels, and some of our new energy efficient technologies were deployed.  This was the first time biofuels were demonstrated in an operational setting of this scale.

 RIMPAC 2012


Large scale solar energy farms on our bases from California to Virginia were connected to generate clean, renewable energy.  Renewable energy can help the Navy stay online if the grid goes down.  Additionally, the Navy reached agreements with two renewable energy developers in south Texas near Naval Air Station Corpus Christi and Naval Air Station Kingsville.  These agreements allow new wind farms to be built while minimizing the potential for interference with our radar and pilot training.  The Navy does not want to inhibit renewable energy development, but it must ensure that it can effectively maintain its training mission.

We’re also developing energy awareness courses for all personnel.  This year, the Naval Post Graduate School will graduate the first class of officers with an energy Master’s degree—helping to ensure our combat capability is not held hostage by our lack of knowledge.

In 2013, we’ll continue to build on our successes.  We’ll keep developing and deploying energy efficient technologies across the Navy, such as hybrid electric drives, stern flaps and energy dashboards on ships.  When possible, we’ll keep working with communities and industry to allow renewable energy projects near our bases to proceed while protecting our training and operations.  And we’ll keep looking for new ideas from all parts of the Navy about how to be energy efficient—and translate that efficiency into greater capability for our warfighters.

Watch Rear Adm. Slates’ video message at

What are your ideas for how the Navy can become more energy efficient as we continue operating forward where it matters, when it matters?