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U.S. Air Force aiming to increase energy security through microgrids

By
Ryan Maass
Natural Power Concepts personnel and Lt. Col. Scott Fitzner, of the AFRL Materials and Manufacturing Directorate, inspect the spoke wheel medium wind power system, one of a number of energy-harvesting technologies being installed as part of the five-year, $20 million cooperative agreement with AFRL that will establish a microgrid demonstration project at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii. (Courtesy photo/Hawaii Center for Advanced Transportation Technologies)
Natural Power Concepts personnel and Lt. Col. Scott Fitzner, of the AFRL Materials and Manufacturing Directorate, inspect the spoke wheel medium wind power system, one of a number of energy-harvesting technologies being installed as part of the five-year, $20 million cooperative agreement with AFRL that will establish a microgrid demonstration project at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii. (Courtesy photo/Hawaii Center for Advanced Transportation Technologies)

WASHINGTON, Nov. 24 (UPI) -- The Air Force Research Laboratory is collaborating with the Hawaii Center for Advanced Transporation Technologies to explore microgrid and alternative fuel.

The U.S. Air Force says the collaboration is part of an effort for the military branch to move toward greater energy security and independence. Under the five-year, $20 million agreement, the Air Force Research Laboratory will manage a microgrid demonstration project at the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, aiming for the Hawaii Air National Guard base to function independently from the power grid for long periods of time.

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"On a broader scale, this project will demonstrate the practicality of microgrids and renewable energy sources to provide energy security for military facilities across the Air Force," AFRL program manager Kevin Spitzer said in a statement. "Hawaii's commitment to alternative energies made them the natural choice for a project like this."

The project explores a variety of alternative energies, including wind power, solar panels, hydrogen vehicles, and other energy-harvesting techniques. The project follows up on an earlier venture that focused on hydrogen production.

"Hawaii's high fuel costs mean that for us, the return on investment is much quicker. Plus, their commitment to a greener standard makes them great partners in this effort. It's a potential win-win for everyone involved," Spitzer added.

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