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Military Seeks Fuel Efficiency With Ships and Electric Vehicles

navyshipNavy ships saved more than $79 million in fuel costs during the first and second quarters of fiscal year (FY) 2009 through the i-ENCON program, reports the Navel Sea Systems Command Office of Corporate Communications. The achievement is touted as the largest cost savings in two quarters since the conservation program was implemented fleet wide in FY 1999.

The U.S. Navy has reduced its overall energy consumption level by 12 percent in 2008. Projects have centered on wind energy generation, solar photovoltaic systems, geothermal systems and ocean thermal energy conversion at military bases primarily in California.

The voluntary i-ENCON program is a major initiative of the Navy’s Energy Conservation (ENCON) Program, spearheaded by the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) to reduce the energy consumption of their ships. One of the ways NAVSEA’s i-ENCON measures fuel and cost avoidance is through “underburn,” the reported fuel rate for the quarter that’s below the ship class’ average burn rate, according to NAVSEA.

The cumulative underburn was 14.83 percent of the total first and second quarter fuel consumption, which translates into a savings of 682,000 barrels or $79 million. This exceeded the ENCON goal of 10 percent. For the navy, this means increased fleet readiness by saving enough fuel to support 14 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers (at an average of 2,500 underway hours) per year.

This performance may be attributed to ships receiving $2 million in cash awards distributed in the fourth quarter of FY 2008 by the commander of Naval Surface Forces, reports NAVSEA. Award money is routed to each commanding officer’s discretionary funds, which are often used to buy items like damage control gear or to augment the ship’s welfare and recreation programs, according to NAVSEA.

The military is also looking at electric vehicles to save on fuel costs. Last December, the U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force announced plans to buy thousands of electric cars and light trucks to provide on-base transport. The deputy assistant Army secretary for energy and partnerships said the 4,000 electric cars, purchased over the next three years, will save 11.5 million gallons of fuel annually.

The armed forces may realize even more fuel savings if they add an Electric Hummer vehicle to purchase orders. Raser Technologies Inc. recently demonstrated a new 100 miles-per-gallon, extended-range electric Hummer H3 at the U.S. Capitol for Members of Congress.

The Electric Hummer H3 was developed by Raser Technologies and its integration partner FEV Inc. in cooperation with General Motors and its Hummer division. The full-size, four-wheel drive SUV can drive up to 40 miles per day in all-electric mode. For extended trips, an internal combustion engine (range extender) kicks in to recharge the batteries, says Raser Technologies.

The new vehicle can be used for fleets, contractors and small business owners. The company says it delivers the payload of a pickup truck with better fuel economy than a Prius.

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3 thoughts on “Military Seeks Fuel Efficiency With Ships and Electric Vehicles

  1. It’s good to see the military taking energy use seriously. It also shows that everyone benefits by these efficiencies. Not only do they save money but presumably they extend the range and availability of the vessels.
    The taxpayer saves money too and foreign imports are reduced. Everybody wins.

  2. I agree with Tony, but I’d like to propose that some new definitions of the word SAVE are in order, or rather for this word to not be used when it is trying to explain a concept. Case in point, This article has “The new fuels are expected to save 11.5 million gallons of gas per year.” Save is to put away for later. Clearly what this sentence is saying is that ‘ 11.5 MILLION GALLONS WILL NOT BE PURCHASED. ‘ NOT PURCHASED is not the same as SAVE. Anytime SAVE is used to describe paying less money, it is a twisting of the actually meaning of the word. We all have advertising executives to thank for this mixing up and confusion of the word save. Think about it.

  3. In retrospect, it is no surprise that the Navy managed to “save” $79 million in fuel costs during these two quarters. Even the Navy is struggling with a budget in these turbulent financial times. A quick comparison to previous quarters will reflect that fewer ships made fewer deployments, and overall steaming-time was much shorter. Obiously, this will result in lower fuel expenses. A better, or at least less incomplete, comparison would be between total fuel expenditure against total running time for all ships.
    This article is just another reflection upon the dangers of statistics.

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