By Rear Adm. Rick Williams, Commander, Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific
This is one of several energy-themed commentaries for Energy Action Month in October. Later in the month, in part II, I’ll discuss more specifics about energy goals: innovation, incentives and investment. Today’s commentary is about embracing change.
The Navy prefers to call this Energy Action Month because we need our “energy warriors” to go from awareness to acceleration. We need to move out of the brown lane of dirty fossil fuels and toward the green. And we need more use of renewables and better conservation.
When we do, we stay in the fight longer, refuel less often and reduce risk across the board.
The Navy is going through an energy transformation – from a consumer of energy to a “prosumer” (producer/consumer) with the ability to generate our own ways to make electricity. This transformation will be defined by technology and cooperation, such as our energy partnership between the Navy, other agencies and industry here in Hawaii.
Hawaii is a perfect location to consider energy and the environment. Not only are we stationed in the most beautiful place in the world, but also because of geography we are in one of the most energy dependent places on earth. Therefore, we want more resilience and independence while preserving the environment.
Change is being driven by new technologies in renewable energy. Solar power and battery storage are making first-order possibilities open up with new discoveries being made. The potential for new energy options is real.
Until recently, solar worked only when the sun was shining. It did not provide a reliable 24/7 power base. However, new opportunities in liquid metal batteries that can store solar energy like 30-kilowatt hours of energy for each home per day will soon be in our future.
Navy Region is partnering with NAVFAC and designing plans to leverage these opportunities with other agencies and industry partners. Our goal is to develop as much solar power and battery storage capacity so we can achieve grid parity – the point where solar becomes cheaper than fuel-sourced energy: From brown to green. I’m confident we can do this in the next few years.
Last summer, RIMPAC ships again demonstrated the Great Green Fleet concept in Hawaiian waters. We showed how renewable energy and new tactics could be part of our energy warriors’ arsenal as the team aboard USS Michael
Murphy (DDG 112) proved. Winner of the 4th Quarter FY 2014 MIDPAC energy conservation award, Michael Murphy burned 20 percent below the average for guided-missile destroyers and saving $726,000 in unconsumed fuel, thereby staying on station and in the fight longer.
In the days ahead, you’ll be seeing more about the “Energy Warrior” in apps and videos and social media interaction.