Suggestions Shared about Improving Navy Energy Use

Today, a panel at the Advanced Biofuels Leadership Conference will discuss military use of alternative fuel for aviation. Earlier this year, we asked for your ideas about how the Navy can use energy smarter.

In this blog, Rear Adm. Kevin Slatesdirector, Energy & Environmental Readiness Division, shares some of your ideas.

This past February, I posted a video message and blog about the importance of energy to our Navy. I invited readers and viewers to submit their ideas for improving the way we use and think about energy. I’m happy to report that the response has been significant. So far, we’ve received more than 50 ideas and submissions from the Navy community, industry representatives and the general public, and more are flowing in regularly.

Energy Ideas

Ideas range from personal acts, such as shutting down computers and lights at the end of the day, to large-scale technological overhauls of Navy ships and systems. While we can’t completely change how we operate overnight, we can — and will — work together to change our energy culture as we continue to incorporate “quick win” technology-driven efficiencies for existing platforms in the short term and implement broader changes for the future. Our team has been reviewing the energy ideas and routing the most promising ones to our Navy technical experts and workgroups that can help turn these ideas into action.

Here are some highlights of potentially innovative ideas we received, in no particular order:

  1. Convene a team of facility engineers and technicians to carefully review energy conservation measures that have been incorporated into buildings based on Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design goals and other standards, to ensure they are as effective as predicted during the prototyping stage.
  2. Aggressively repair leaks and insulation to steam pipes, windows, doorways and other building to increase building efficiency at naval facilities.
  3. For military construction projects, consider designing buildings to strictly segregate heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems and lighting from the wide range of “plug” loads, and meter those loads separately. This could facilitate holding designers and builders more accountable for meeting energy consumption goals.
  4. Mandate that utility distribution systems on installations report consumption separately in the Defense Utility Energy Reporting System to help identify losses and inefficiencies that can be addressed.
  5. Consider fitting existing water distribution infrastructure with electricity-generating equipment. This kind of project could allow for environmentally friendly generation of electricity from existing water flows.
  6. Consider hydrodynamic designs in shipbuilding to reduce fuel consumption.
  7. During new ship designs, consider the use of multiple hulls to increase fuel efficiency, instead of single hulls.
  8. Fit solar panels into the lining of diesel surface ships.
  9. Study and assess the potential of fuel-efficient airship vehicles (blimps) for some maritime missions.

It is my hope that some of these ideas, when fully analyzed, will lead to solutions that complement our ongoing efforts to provide energy awareness training for personnel; reward individual and team actions that conserve energy both ashore and afloat; and install energy-efficient systems aboard ships and aircraft.

I also know our smart Sailors out in the Fleet have great ideas for things we can do to change our practices, or “how we do something,” that can help save fuel or shore power. Some of these can be simple behavior changes, vice costly technology changes — yet yield significant savings. Keep your good ideas coming!

Our national security mission remains paramount. In support of that mission, energy efficiency — through both culture change and technology — can reduce our vulnerability by minimizing refueling stops; extending the range of ships and aircraft; and limiting exposure to potential “price shocks” within the global petroleum market. Any megawatt hour we save is one we never have to buy. Particularly in the current fiscal environment, I believe it is more important than ever to invest in and work towards energy efficiency.

The aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) pulls alongside the Military Sealift Command fleet replenishment oiler USNS Kanawha (T-AO 196) to conduct a refueling at sea, Feb. 1. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Adam R. Brock/Released)

The aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) pulls alongside the Military Sealift Command fleet replenishment oiler USNS Kanawha (T-AO 196) to conduct a refueling at sea, Feb. 1. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Adam R. Brock/Released)


Changing our energy culture and systems won’t happen overnight. However, as other senior Navy leaders have said, the person closest to a problem is often closest to the solution. I appreciate the fact that Navy personnel both afloat and ashore are thinking “outside the box” as we continue to seek approaches that will enable us to meet Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus’s energy goals and continue to improve combat capability. It is important to recognize that the Navy does not have all the answers. We need outside perspectives that bring new ideas to the table. With that in mind, I am glad to see that some of the ideas submitted are coming from companies and interested citizens.

Thank you to those who have submitted ideas. I encourage you to keep the good ideas coming and to let others know we’d like to hear from them, too.  Please send your ideas to us.