Smart bases, electric vehicles key energy independence components

By on Friday, August 26th, 2011

The Air Force and other Department of Defense agencies are aggressively pursuing plug-in electric vehicles and vehicle-to-grid infrastructure technologies, DOD leaders told industry representatives at an Electric Vehicle Industry Day here Aug. 23.

“We are here to tell you three things,” said Terry A. Yonkers, the assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations, environment and logistics. “We are serious about this; we are going to be the catalyst for the executive branch; and it is time to stop talking and get down to doing it.”

PEVs and vehicle-to-grid technology allow installations that generate power from alternative sources to use the power to charge electric vehicles and also use these same vehicles as storage devices. The vehicles reduce reliance on fossil fuels and store power for use either at peak loads (when connected to the grid) or as stand-alone sources of power if the commercial grid fails.

The PEV and vehicle-to-grid technology is two-way. The grid both charges the vehicles and draws from them when called on when not in use.

Within weeks, the Air Force is scheduled to announce the selection of a base where these technologies will be installed and evaluated for wider application.

“Our first concern is making sure (the installation) gets the right vehicles for the jobs they need to do,” said Dr. Kevin Geiss, the deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for energy, office of the assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations, environment and logistics.

“We have a global mission, and it’s often the work that gets done at installations that allows us to fulfill this mission,” Geiss said. “The (vehicle) fleet supports Airmen doing this work at the installations. They must have the right tools.”

Geiss said much of the test base analysis will focus on how PEVs and vehicle-to-grid technology tie in to installation master plans.

“An installation is a system; we need to look at additional capabilities these vehicles can bring,” he said.

Installations could theoretically be self-supporting and also generate income through providing power to the commercial grid.

The industry day was an opportunity for DOD leaders to outline for industry representatives why PEV and vehicle-to-grid technologies are being pursued with such vigor, the basic cost parameters and the desired outcomes.

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