U.S. Military Nearly Doubles Renewable Energy Projects
U.S. Armed Forces have been relying expertise from the private sector and third-party financing to deploy renewable energy, and a new report shows that it's been paying off tremendously.
Renewable projects on Department of Defense and military properties grew from 454 to 700 from 2010 to 2012, according to Power Surge, a report released today by the Pew Charitable Trusts.
The amount of energy saving and efficiency projects more than doubled—from 630 to 1,339—during the same period.
"The military’s clean energy installation initiatives are gathering momentum, enhancing base energy security,” said Phyllis Cuttino, director of Pew’s project on national security, energy, and climate. “These improvements are possible even as the Pentagon’s budget is shrinking because the armed services are harnessing private-sector expertise and resources.
"This is a win-win-win proposition: The military gets better energy infrastructure, taxpayer dollars are saved, and the clean energy industry is finding new market opportunities.”
The military receives a hefty $4 billion bill to power all of its bases and facilities each year, but the report says the Armed Forces have saved "hundreds of millions of dollars in energy costs by deploying efficient and renewable technologies" over the past decade. For example, the Marine Corps Logistics Base in Albany, GA uses a combined heat and power system to reduce carbon pollution. The system saves the base about $1.3 million each year and resulted in an Energy Star award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in November.
The military has been using energy saving performance contracts and utility service contracts that involve little or no upfront cost. The private partner typically guarantees that the improivements will generate enough savings to pay for a project over the contract's term. One example in the study is the $3.2 million savings from a 1.5-megawatt solar array at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, CA.
The power purchase agreements already in place are expected to finance about 80 percent of future renewable projects. The agreements call for developers to find financing and maintain the projects.
The study also discusses the Master Energy Performance Plan developed by the Pentagon. One of its primary goals is to increase on-site electricity generation with renewable energy, and deploy 3 gigawatts of renewable energy—enough to power 750,000 homes—by 2025.
“The Department of Defense has a long history of embracing energy challenges and has been at the forefront of innovation," said John Warner, a former U.S. senator and secretary of the Navy and senior adviser to the Pew study. "And so it is today that we find America’s armed forces in the midst of the transition to renewable power and efficiency technologies that help ensure a stable, diversified, and continuous supply of electricity. I commend the men and women of the armed forces who are making these changes possible with their spirit of ingenuity and commitment.”
Visit EcoWatch’s RENEWABLES page for more related news on this topic.
The ghoulishly named ogre-faced spider can "hear" with its legs and use that ability to catch insects flying behind it, the study published in Current Biology Thursday concluded.
"Spiders are sensitive to airborne sound," Cornell professor emeritus Dr. Charles Walcott, who was not involved with the study, told the Cornell Chronicle. "That's the big message really."
The net-casting, ogre-faced spider (Deinopis spinosa) has a unique hunting strategy, as study coauthor Cornell University postdoctoral researcher Jay Stafstrom explained in a video.
They hunt only at night using a special kind of web: an A-shaped frame made from non-sticky silk that supports a fuzzy rectangle that they hold with their front forelegs and use to trap prey.
They do this in two ways. In a maneuver called a "forward strike," they pounce down on prey moving beneath them on the ground. This is enabled by their large eyes — the biggest of any spider. These eyes give them 2,000 times the night vision that we have, Science explained.
But the spiders can also perform a move called the "backward strike," Stafstrom explained, in which they reach their legs behind them and catch insects flying through the air.
"So here comes a flying bug and somehow the spider gets information on the sound direction and its distance. The spiders time the 200-millisecond leap if the fly is within its capture zone – much like an over-the-shoulder catch. The spider gets its prey. They're accurate," coauthor Ronald Hoy, the D & D Joslovitz Merksamer Professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior in the College of Arts and Sciences, told the Cornell Chronicle.
What the researchers wanted to understand was how the spiders could tell what was moving behind them when they have no ears.
It isn't a question of peripheral vision. In a 2016 study, the same team blindfolded the spiders and sent them out to hunt, Science explained. This prevented the spiders from making their forward strikes, but they were still able to catch prey using the backwards strike. The researchers thought the spiders were "hearing" their prey with the sensors on the tips of their legs. All spiders have these sensors, but scientists had previously thought they were only able to detect vibrations through surfaces, not sounds in the air.
To test how well the ogre-faced spiders could actually hear, the researchers conducted a two-part experiment.
First, they inserted electrodes into removed spider legs and into the brains of intact spiders. They put the spiders and the legs into a vibration-proof booth and played sounds from two meters (approximately 6.5 feet) away. The spiders and the legs responded to sounds from 100 hertz to 10,000 hertz.
Next, they played the five sounds that had triggered the biggest response to 25 spiders in the wild and 51 spiders in the lab. More than half the spiders did the "backward strike" move when they heard sounds that have a lower frequency similar to insect wing beats. When the higher frequency sounds were played, the spiders did not move. This suggests the higher frequencies may mimic the sounds of predators like birds.
University of Cincinnati spider behavioral ecologist George Uetz told Science that the results were a "surprise" that indicated science has much to learn about spiders as a whole. Because all spiders have these receptors on their legs, it is possible that all spiders can hear. This theory was first put forward by Walcott 60 years ago, but was dismissed at the time, according to the Cornell Chronicle. But studies of other spiders have turned up further evidence since. A 2016 study found that a kind of jumping spider can pick up sonic vibrations in the air.
"We don't know diddly about spiders," Uetz told Science. "They are much more complex than people ever thought they were."
Learning more provides scientists with an opportunity to study their sensory abilities in order to improve technology like bio-sensors, directional microphones and visual processing algorithms, Stafstrom told CNN.
"The point is any understudied, underappreciated group has fascinating lives, even a yucky spider, and we can learn something from it," he told CNN.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
In 'Road Map for a More Sustainable Future,' NY Regulator Tells Banks to Consider Climate Risks in Planning
By Brett Wilkins
Regulators in New York state announced Thursday that banks and other financial services companies are expected to plan and prepare for risks posed by the climate crisis.
There are many different CBD oil brands in today's market. But, figuring out which brand is the best and which brand has the strongest oil might feel challenging and confusing. Our simple guide to the strongest CBD oils will point you in the right direction.
A NASA spacecraft has successfully collected a sample from the Bennu asteroid more than 200 million miles away from Earth. The samples were safely stored and will be preserved for scientists to study after the spacecraft drops them over the Utah desert in 2023, according to the Associated Press (AP).
Exxon Mobil will lay off an estimated 14,000 workers, about 15% of its global workforce, including 1,900 workers in the U.S., the company announced Thursday.
- Will Chevron and Exxon Ever Be Held Responsible for Decades of ... ›
- Exxon Goes on Trial for Lying About the Climate Crisis - EcoWatch ›
- Exxon Sues Massachusetts Attorney General to Block Climate Fraud ... ›