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    Green future for MCB Hawaii



    Story by Lance Cpl. Jesus Sepulveda Torres 

    Marine Corps Base Hawaii

    MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII – The Marine Corps Base Hawaii facilities department joined with state of Hawaii energy representatives, representatives for the governor of Hawaii and other prominent groups in the energy field, aboard MCB Hawaii, May 10, 2016.

    MCB Hawaii staff provided an overview of the base’s energy program, collaborated with the state of Hawaii to find opportunities for potential energy projects, and to help build a stronger relationship with the state of Hawaii. The representatives were given a base tour and met with personnel to discuss possible problems and solutions regarding the base’s energy position.

    According to the MCB Hawaii facilities department, for fiscal year 2015, the base spent $29 million on its electricity bill, and if the base could reduce that amount by 10%, it would equal to the annual salary of 120 junior Marines. The base also consumed 355 million gallons of water the same year, which is enough to fill over 537 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

    James McCay, a resource efficiency manager with MCB Hawaii facilities, says there are energy saving projects being done and more opportunities in the future to help reduce the amount of energy the base uses.

    “Right now we are moving towards the energy efficiency side of the facilities,” said McCay, a Canberra, Australia, native. “Things like smart metering, which would better show accuracy on the power consumption used by buildings. Getting more efficient lights in some of the really old facilities that are used a lot, and upgrading the air conditioners to modernize them. Making the base more efficient goes back to the mission and the mission is supporting the Marines.”

    He said MCB Hawaii is moving forward in being more energy efficient, for example, homes and facilities here on base have photovoltaic panels on the roofs.

    “Many of the homes here on base have solar panels on the roof, and there are panels on the base lodging that help heat up the water,” McCay said. “Some of the important facilities on base use solar panels in case of a power outage such as the base air terminal and the aircraft rescue and firefighting building. In the upcoming months we will have also installed solar panels on the canopy of the new MV-22 unit’s hangar parking lot.”

    He also said a grid-connected wave energy test site at MCB Hawaii was established, which could help power not only the base in the future, but also be used for other areas of the world.

    Patrick Cross, one of the project managers with the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute from the University of Hawaii, said there are currently three wave-energy conversion devices, which measure wave energy and convert it into electricity off the shore of MCB Hawaii. The WEC devices are not heavily used for powering the base, but are instead utilized for further research and development.

    “The potential renewable energy from waves is huge,” said Cross, a retired Navy commander, and an Alexander, Va., native. “One might ask, ‘Why hasn’t this been developed 50 years ago if the potential is so great?’ The reason is because the challenges are also huge.”

    He said the biggest challenge facing this technology is the ocean itself.
    “Having a device working for years at a time, producing power in the ocean environment is very costly,” Cross said. “Things in the ocean tend to break, they tend to rust and corrode, so it’s a tough place to work. You have to design a device that will still produce power when a storm hits. So far, many countries have developed wave energy devices that produce power, but they haven’t been able to survive long periods at sea.”

    He said the technology may still be in development, but he hopes it would be used for the benefit of not just the base, but the world.
    “It adds to our toolbox of renewable sources, so if we can work through those challenges and make wave energy viable, you can imagine the potential of providing electricity to many parts of the world, mostly affecting populated areas along the coastline,” Cross said. “Whether it’s in the roughest parts of the ocean such as the North Atlantic or the calmer waters in the tropical pacific, the potential is there and the research will continue.”

    Navy Comm. Thomas Lyons III, the facilities director for MCB Hawaii, said the wave energy technology, solar power and other forms of renewable energy, will help to reduce the dependence of fossils fuels. He hopes in time, the overall shared goal discussed in the meeting with the representatives would be met: To make Hawaii, including the base 100% powered by renewable energy.

    “In about 25 years, our goal is to be 100% off the grid,” said Lyons, a Marietta, Ga., native. “Not only would it help to reduce power consumption, but the focus has always been about the Marines here. Energy is a mission, so we need to provide ways for cheaper, more resilient forms of it. Every dollar we save on our energy bill is one more dollar we can put into the mission.”



    Date Taken: 05.10.2016
    Date Posted: 06.13.2016 16:10
    Story ID: 200933

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