In fiscal year 2012, the US Air Force spent more than $9 billion on energy, with over 85 percent of those energy costs dedicated to aviation fuel, according to the service’s latest Energy Strategic Plan.
This amounts to eight percent of the Air Force overall budget, meaning that even moderate improvements in conservation and efficiency could translate to “very large dollar savings,” according to Dr. Jamie Morin, acting under secretary of the Air Force, who spoke about the energy plan recently.
To put that amount of energy in context, the federal government consumes about one percent of the energy in the US. Half of that is consumed by the Department of Defense, and half of DoD energy is consumed by the Air Force, according to SustainableBusiness.com.
The Air Force says it is on track to reduce energy consumption and took steps that helped to avoid $1.5 billion in energy bills last year when compared to the baseline years for its facility and aviation energy reduction goals. Much of this can be attributed to achievements in reducing aviation fuel consumption, the Air Force says.
In 2006, the Air Force set a goal of reducing aviation fuel consumption 10 percent by 2015. The service has exceeded that goal three years ahead of schedule through the combination of investments and policy initiatives. In total, the Air Force has reduced its total consumption by more than 12 percent in that time, according to Morin.
The service has also reduced facility energy intensity by more than 21 percent since its 2003 baseline and increased its use of renewable energy, the report says.
The Air Force says it is also on track to meet goals of reducing energy intensity by a total of 37.5 percent by 2020 over a 2003 baseline, and the long-term goal of increasing the amount of renewable energy use to 25 percent of renewable energy consumption by 2025. Last year 5.5 percent of the Air Force’s electricity came from renewable energy sources.
Four main priorities are set out in the plan: improve resiliency, reduce demand, assure supply, and foster an energy aware culture. To support these priorities, the Air Force says it is making changes to flying operations to use less fuel, working with private industry on renewable energy facilities, and driving energy awareness at all levels of professional development and technical training, among other activities.
In December, the Air Force entered into a license agreement with New Generation Biomass to explore development of a biomass renewable energy generation facility on Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico. The license grants New Generation Biomass limited access to approximately 80 acres on Holloman AFB to determine its suitability for the proposed Black Bear Biomass Energy Facility, which would provide up to 20 MW of energy to the El Paso Electric grid, from which the base purchases electricity.