AF building bridges on energy, environment

  • Published
  • By Capt. Greg Hignite
  • U.S. Air Forces in Europe Public Affairs
The Air Force's top energy and environmental steward wrapped up a week-long mission to Europe, building an energy awareness consortium among key air force and commercial aviation leaders Nov. 16.

"Our goal was to connect with our counterparts in the French and British air forces, to build a three-way understanding on the tremendous challenges that lay ahead on energy and environmental issues and establish a way ahead," said Bill Anderson, assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Installations, Environment and Logistics. All parties recognized the major impact they can have by reducing their energy and environmental footprint."

Mr. Anderson noted that Airmen here play a critical role in further energy conservation efforts within Europe. "The relationships and connections [U.S. Air Forces in Europe] Airmen have with their neighbors are crucial to making this initiative a success," he said. There's a logical expansion of this plan to work with Germany or other NATO countries and that established relationship will be crucial to moving this project ahead quickly.

The Air Force team also met with European commercial aviation leaders in both countries to build bridges and share ideas on how technology initiatives can help conserve natural resources. With the military accounting for approximately 10 percent of the U.S. aviation fuel usage, it's critical we explore ways to team together and find efficiencies, he said.

Mr. Anderson noted that his goal is for commercial and military enterprises to collaborate so a greener fuel can be produced for aviation. With the Air Force now testing a synthetic jet fuel, the team visited a UK-based company working on a bio-synthetic jet fuel blend. Mr. Anderson anticipates that in the future it might be feasible to combine the two feed stocks to produce an efficient, environmentally friendly jet fuel.

"This allows us to lick the energy supply problem while at the same time addressing carbon dioxide emissions," Mr. Anderson said. Ultimately, this will help improve the carbon footprint in the broader aviation industry--not just the military.

Along with discussing new fuel initiatives, the group shared other energy conservation efforts. By working to reduce aircraft weight by limiting the amount of fuel on board, flying the most direct routes, reducing ground run time and expanding simulation training.

Going beyond aviation, the Air Force team took time this week to explain how the service is capitalizing on underutilized land on installations. Highlighting a recent initiative at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., European leaders heard about the largest photovoltaic farm in the Americas set to open in December. The panels will generate 14.2 megawatts of clean energy further decreasing the need for carbon-based resources.

"We believe, along with our British and French air force partners, that we can make a major impact on energy and the environment," he said. The group is now putting together an action plan to move forward and work together on future projects.

"This mission was a validation of what Gen. [T. Michael] Moseley believed--that each service would have similar concerns," Mr. Anderson said. "Everyone recognized we can move faster and better together by sharing ideas, experiences and our knowledge rather than working alone."