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Energy initiatives save money, resources, provide reliable power

January 17, 2012

By Summer Barkley

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (Jan. 17, 2012) -- Cutting edge technology and energy initiatives for Operation Enduring Freedom, or OEF, that bring energy efficient power generation to forward deployed units were showcased to senior Department of Defense personnel by members of the 401st Army Field Support Brigade's Research, Development and Engineering Command Field Assistance in Science and Technology Center, U.S. Army Rapid Equipping Force personnel and customers here Jan. 8.

Frank Kendall, acting undersecretary of defense for acquisition, logistics and technology, and Sharon Burke, assistant secretary of defense for operational energy plans and programs, visited Camp Sabalu-Harrison to see the first microgrid emplaced in OEF. The microgrid is a joint venture encompassing Project Manager Mobile Electric Power, Research, Development and Engineering Command or REDCOM, U.S. Forces Afghanistan and was supported by Burke's office.

They also saw several solar energy platforms that Rapid Equipping Force, known as REF, uses in its Energy to the Edge initiative to provide portable energy solutions designed to operate more efficiently, reduce fuel consumption and generator maintenance time while storing excess energy to meet the energy requirements of combatant commanders at forward operating tactical units.

Following briefings on the static displays, Burke discussed the future of the microgrid project and a new program, the Energy Initiative Proving Ground, or EIPG, that will establish a quantitative baseline for energy and fuel use in expeditionary operations and systematically evaluate the impact of technology such as improved efficiency environmental control units, insulating thermal tent liners, tent shades, and hybrid solar-electrical power technology.

The EIPG will also place a hybrid solar power system into a Village Stability Platform site for evaluation as a stable, reliable power source reducing the fuel burden for critical Command & Control Communications and Surveillance systems.

Burke noted that the successful demonstration of the microgrid project was uncertain after, Project Manager Mobile Electric Power, or PM- MEP, was forced to recall their subject matter expert in mid-December. Zalewski volunteered to steward Camp Sabalu-Harrison and the microgrid to keep it operational and developed a memorandum of agreement between the RDECOM senior officer in OEF, the PM MEP, and the camp mayor to share responsibilities between RDECOM's Field Assistance in Science and Technology Center, known as RFAST-C, and the mayor's cell for stewardship of the microgrid into the spring, when primary power is slated to be run to the site and the microgrid will no longer be required.

Burke recognized and thanked Lt. Col. Alan C. Samuels, RFAST-C director, U.S Navy Cmdr. Dane Honrado, Camp Sabalu-Harrison life support area commander, Maj. Thomas W. Casey, REF team chief, Afghanistan and Michael J. Zalewski, RFAST-C power and energy engineer, for their work on energy initiatives.

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