Produce hot water with solar and save energy

| October 5, 2018 | 0 Comments

Santiago Hernandez
Energy Conservation Representative
Directorate of Public Works
U.S. Army Garrison Hawaii

WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD, Hawaii — Hawaii’s year-round sunny weather provides an excellent opportunity for U.S. Army Garrison Hawaii to introduce cost effective renewable measures, to foster energy conservation and energy resiliency. The Army’s constant requirement to produce hot water is costly and on the rise.

The Directorate of Public Works (DPW), with the help of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, has implemented the largest, flat plate-solar thermal system in the United States, to help USAG-HI produce hot water, reach its energy security goals, and combat against Hawaii’s soaring energy prices.

This energy conservation project is entirely facilitated by the Energy Savings Performance Contract (ESPC).  According to the U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, “An ESPC is a contracting vehicle that allows agencies to accomplish energy savings projects for their facilities without up-front capital costs and without special Congressional appropriations to pay for the improvements.  In ESPC, contractors provide their own funding for projects and are paid back from savings resulting from the contractor’s actions.”   Picture taken by:  Santiago Hernandez, DPW Energy Conservation Manager, thermal solar panels on Schofield Barracks building 358, C Quad.

Thermal solar panels on Schofield Barracks in Bldg. 358, C Quad. (Photo by Santiago Hernandez, DPW Energy Conservation Manager) 

The current USAG-HI Energy Savings Performance Contract (ESPC)* solar venture is designed to help reduce energy use without affecting existing water heating systems and Soldier comfort on Schofield. This is done by simply augmenting existing heating systems with solar thermal energy equipment, which is solely powered by the sun. Overall, a total of 16 Soldier barracks (throughout C, E, and I, J, K Quads) are benefiting from 560 rooftop solar collectors. According to Siemens Government Technologies, the collectors have a total name plate capacity of producing over 4,500,000 Btu’s per hour – providing enough energy to replace over 200 gallons of propane per day, which otherwise would be used to power existing conventional heating boilers.

Under the right conditions the newly installed solar thermal systems are designed to meet between 59% and 85% of the annual energy requirements. The solar panels feature proprietary electro-plated absorbers, which transfer energy from the sun to the heat transfer fluid at over 40% efficiency. The beauty of the system lies in its simplicity. The only moving parts are pumps circulating water. This means many years of reliable operation with minimum operation costs.

In addition to the solar thermal units, DPW retrofitted Quad offices, command buildings, and the same 16 Soldier barracks with 14,814 LED light bulbs, estimated to save the army $458,818.00 or 2,010,634 kilowatt hours annually. With these savings USAG-HI can purchase electricity for all of Aliamanu Military Reservation (AMR), which includes 1,430 homes, PX, Burger King, Chapel, child youth services, and the recreational center for 1 month.

Additionally, Soldier barracks on Schofield and Fort Shafter had 964 rooms outfitted with new shower heads and sink aerators, thus helping to reduce water consumption by 40%. Each room also received an occupancy sensor. When it becomes unoccupied, or it senses that the windows and door is open the sensor will shut off the air condition.

Piggybacking on Hawaii’s year round weather to generate energy is a great idea, especially, if it helps generate energy security and lower costs. However, everyone should know that the equipment is expensive and the payback takes longer. Eventually all equipment breaks down and nothing is guaranteed to permanently work. Solar thermal panels, LED lights, occupancy sensors, and water reduction devices are great towards saving energy, but equipment is not the permanent solution towards using less. People bare the sole solution for using less.

Our cultural mindset has to change. We have to accept the notion that cheap energy is no longer an option. Henceforth all energy should be protected and used responsibly – even at the cost of convenience. Conserve, Recycle, and Reduce! Or risk marginalizing our newest renewable measures and expect our energy overuse to continue.

Call in emergency work orders to the DPW Help Desk at 808-656-1275. Get with your Building Maintenance Representative (BMR) to submit an online work order to Use energy responsibly! Pass it on!

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Category: News, Sustainability

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