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UC Davis energy experts to help US Navy get greener

UC Davis today agreed to help the U.S. Navy find new ways to use less energy and to derive more of the energy it does use from renewable sources such as the sun and wind, instead of oil and coal.

The primary focus of the new partnership is to cut the energy the Navy uses for outdoor lighting on its bases. The right combination of lights, sensors and computerized controls can reduce lighting energy consumption up to 70 percent, said Michael Siminovitch, director of the UC Davis California Lighting Technology Center and a professor of design at UC Davis.

The lighting center is already testing lighting systems at three military installations in California: Naval Base San Diego, California National Guard Joint Forces Headquarters in Sacramento and Beale Air Force Base in Marysville.

Under the new memorandum of agreement, the Navy will also look to UC Davis for expertise in other aspects of renewable and efficient energy technology, such as building heating and cooling, and alternative energy sources for Navy vehicles, vessels and aircraft.

In a half-day meeting today, UC Davis energy experts described the university's many research, development and technology-transfer programs to Jackalyne Pfannenstiel, the Navy's assistant secretary for energy, installations and environment. Pfannenstiel knows the university from her years as chair of the California Energy Commission, which funds UC Davis energy research and development through its Public Interest Energy Research program.

"Over a year ago, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus laid out some pretty ambitious energy goals for the Navy and Marine Corps, which are essential to reducing our dependence on fossil fuels," Pfannenstiel said.

"We believe that all of his goals are achievable. In order to meet them, we must focus not only on alternative energy sources but also on improving our energy efficiency to reduce our overall consumption. This agreement with UC Davis will help advance our efforts on both fronts."

Last month, Mabus told a clean-economy summit in Washington, D.C., that the military dependence on fossil fuels "creates strategic, operational and tactical vulnerabilities for our forces."

Mabus said: "Energy reform is about improving the capability and efficiency of the ships, aircraft and weapons systems that we use. It's about making us better warfighters. It's also about ensuring the safety and the lives of our sailors and Marines."

The overarching goal, he said, "is that no later than 2020, at least half of all the energy that we use, both afloat and ashore, will come from nonfossil fuel sources. Also by 2020, at least half our bases will be net-zero in terms of consumption. And in a lot of cases, we think we'll be returning power to the grid rather than pulling power from it."


Contact: Michael Siminovitch
University of California - Davis

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