Sunday, August 09, 2009

Energy conservation in the Australian Military

The topic of energy conservation appears to have been largely ignored by the Australian military. There are only two papers listed in the Australian Defence Force Journal in the category "energy". These are "Addressing Energy as a Military Cost" (Palmer, 178 Mar/Apr 2009) and "The Compelling Requirement to Energy-Proof the Australian Defence Force (White, 175 Jan/Feb 2008). Palmer provides an overview of some alternative energy sources for deployed forces, such as solar panels, wind power and bio-fuel. However, the obvious first step of reducing energy cost is to reduce the consumption of energy, while Palmer looks at some exotic technologies for this, such as hybrid drives for military vehicles, they miss some of the simpler ones, such as reducing electricity use in bases.

In "Joined-up thinking" (Jane's Defence Weekly, 9 July 2009) Tony Skinner reports on NATO's command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) system in Afghanistan. This includes the NATO Combined Joint Operations Centre (CJOC) in Kabul. The CJOC has a typical theatre design of room with five large projection screens on one wall, fed from ceiling mounted projectors. There are three twos of tiered seating, with a row of about thirty LCD screens on each of the three rows of desks. Operators have between one and four LCD screens each. There is a further row of seats separated at the very back of the room. Most operator stations also have an IP smart phone.

The CJOC would require a considerable amount of electrical power, both to supply the operator's stations directly and to cool the waste heat from the equipment. From a photograph accompanying Skinner's article, it appear that there is poor energy discipline maintained by the NATO staff, with LCD screens turned on at unused operator stations. Several monitors showing the default Microsoft Windows "screen saver" indicating that the power saving options of the operating system have not been enabled. Also the telephones at unused stations appear to be powered up.

NATO could achieve considerable power savings simply by switching on the power saving options of the workstations. Further savings could be made by replacing multiple screens with more energy efficient large monitors.

The room appears to be equipped with standard office strip florescent lighting. This could be replaced with more energy efficient LED task lightning. Apart from reducing energy use, the task lighting would allow the use of lower energy projection screens. This would also provide a more modular and deployable option, as the task lighting could be provided per workstation.

More energy savings could be made by changing the computer equipment used. Most of the workstations in the CJOC appear to be personal computers. These could be replaced with low power thin clients. Apart from savings in energy use, thin clients would have a lower purchase and maintenance cost and be considerably easier to deploy. If the NATO applications were changed to take advantage of web based technology the size of the servers required could also be reduced.

It should not be surprising if the NATO ICT is not energy efficient, as that does not seem to have been a requirement in tenders for the facility, such as Statement of Work
IFB-CO-12520-OPL BOOK II - PART III (NATO 23 October 2008). The only power consumption requirement included seems to be that it be within the captaincy of the UPS:

1.1.1 NATO forces are currently deployed to Kandahar Airfield (KAF) in Afghanistan
to support the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission. As the NATO
footprint at KAF expands, NATO must provide sufficient Communications and
Information System (CIS) capability to enable those forces to effectively command and control the regional forces, as well as conduct both staff and operational functions at KAF and in the ISAF theatre.

1.1.2 The prime objective of this project is to create a robust, modern CIS
infrastructure at the Kandahar Airfield (KAF) in Afghanistan that shall satisfy the basic requirements for availability, survivability and data recovery following any potential outage. To achieve this, existing CIS systems at Kandahar Airfield must be enhanced, upgraded or replaced to prevent continued reliance on outdated (end of life) and unsupported technology. Some part of the current architecture and
infrastructure has been in theatre for some time under harsh operational
conditions and is prone to system wide vulnerabilities and multiple single
points of failure. Other parts of the infrastructure have been installed as
part of a mitigation plan to accommodate NATO’s increasing need for CIS
capabilities at KAF. ...

Power Provisioning ...

10.14.3 A power generator will be installed for each ADN under a separate
contract in case the 220V grid would not be available at the time of
installation. The Contractor shall validate the power installation
requirements for the ADN shelters during site survey.
10.14.4 The Purchaser will provide and install a building UPS and power
generator at both TCFs via a separate contract. The Contractor shall
validate the power installation requirements for the TCFs during site
survey. The Contractor shall cooperate with the UPS engineer to facilitate
graceful shutdown procedures on all Windows based servers. ...

From: Statement of Work IFB-CO-12520-OPL BOOK II - PART III (NATO 23 October 2008).

Perhaps ADF or NATO staff might like to enrol in my Green ICT Sustainability course.

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