Fort Leonard Wood will soon receive its first on-post power-generation operation, a Combined Heat and Power system. The implementation of CHP, commonly known as cogeneration, will increase energy efficiency and readiness on the installation, according to Installation Energy Manager Allen Simpson.
Cogeneration is the simultaneous production of electricity and heat from a single source. “This process allows heat that would normally be lost in power generation to be recovered to provide heating and/or cooling,” said Greg Posten, Directorate of Public Works operations and maintenance chief.
Simpson said the move toward CHP will cut costs.
“The efficiency comes because we are capturing the heat that’s produced in that process and putting that heat into a boiler plant,” he said. “So we’re not having to buy that natural gas to heat the boilers.”
“The natural gas offsets itself while we are able to produce our own electricity,” Simpson said.
Along with cutting costs in the name of energy efficiency, he said the U.S. Army has focused on resiliency, or an ability to maintain continuity of operations in the face of adversity.
“(CHP’s) target is mission-critical facilities and to maintain the mission if something was to happen,” he said. “It could be a natural disaster, such as an earthquake or tornado, or it could be a terrorist attack.”
Simpson said that regardless of the cause, natural or manmade, the cogeneration energy system increases the readiness of mission-critical facilities as the installation no longer has to depend on off-post power providers as much.
“We don’t have to rely on them in the case of an ice storm taking down the transmission lines off-post,” he said. “The idea is to make a microgrid and direct that energy where we need it to go (on the installation).”
Funding for the energy system overhaul comes from the Army’s Energy Resilience and Conservation Investment Program. According to both Posten and Simpson, Fort Leonard Wood has already been approved for another CHP system, but it is still in the conceptual stages.
CHP was chosen over renewable energy sources, such as wind or solar, because of its more economical nature and the installation’s geographical location, they said.
However, the topic is not completely off the table.
Simpson said the Fort Leonard Wood Directorate of Public Works is currently monitoring renewable energy data coming from neighboring communities such as Rolla, which hosts a 20-acre solar farm.
“We are also investigating our ability to use renewables in a cost-effective manner,” Posten said. “With the costs of these types of technologies coming down, we intend to reevaluate our ability to use them.”
A team from the Army Office of Energy Initiatives will soon be re-evaluating Fort Leonard Wood’s ability to use renewable energy sources, he said.
While pursuing alternative forms of energy is a goal in itself, Posten said, “we owe it to the taxpayer to be as energy efficient as possible.”