INDIAN HEAD, Md. (NNS) -- The benefits of upgrading Naval Support Facility Indian Head's power and steam capability are quickly becoming apparent as the base's new system of nodal, natural-gas powered plants approaches its first full year of operation.
Replacing the Goddard Power Plant, the new, decentralized steam system provides a much more environmentally-friendly footprint, as well as a substantial reduction in the Navy's dependency on fossil fuels; specifically, the vast amounts of coal -- approximately 15,000 tons per year -- needed to provide power and steam to NSF Indian Head.
After Goddard went offline, a demonstrable reduction in billable air pollutants -- 42 percent, or the equivalent of 300 tons of air pollution -- showed the effort to make America's fleet greener is already paying dividends at NSF Indian Head.
With a 28 percent reduction in particulate matter 2.5 and 10 -- defined as "inhalable coarse particles larger than 2.5 micrometers and smaller than 10 micrometers" -- a 28 percent reduction in nitrogen oxides and a 44 percent reduction in sulfur dioxide emissions for those first 10 months, NSF Indian Head has made substantial strides in doing its part to achieve Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus's goal: for the Navy to get half of its energy from alternative sources by 2020.
"Using the current billing rates, this reduction in pollutants will result in annual savings of over $17,000 on Title V Permit Operating fees for NSF Indian Head," said Dave Hoffman, environmental supervisory physical scientist at the NSF Indian Head Public Works Department.
While carbon dioxide is not a billable air pollutant, the 25 percent reduction in CO2 emissions, or roughly 32,000 tons, is priceless in terms of benefits to the environment.
"We will have even further reductions for 2016 now that Goddard is completely offline," said Lt. Kyle Schlais, NSF Indian Head site production officer and construction manager.
"While it is difficult to determine the definite emission rates, we have calculated predictions based on the most conservative estimate as to what we can expect for 2016," Schlais explained.
The expected reductions in emissions, based on those conservative estimates, show a 62 percent reduction in particulate matter (10), or roughly 40 tons per year, and a significant 97 percent decrease in particulate matter (2.5), or 12.7 tons annually. For nitrogen oxides, analysts predict a 15 percent reduction, or 14.6 tons annually, and for sulfur dioxide emissions the expected reduction is 93 percent or 457 tons annually.
"Not only are we looking at massive reductions in pollutants, we will have far more efficient steam distribution with the decentralized system and less energy loss through steam leaks," Schlais said.
The new system, which includes a cogeneration (electric-and steam-producing) primary nodal plant and seven natural gas-fueled, secondary nodal steam plants, will ensure a continuous utility supply that is essential to the mission capabilities at NSF Indian Head.
One important aspect of the new system that will ensure a reduction in utility downtime is the state-of-the art computer system that provides rapid and specific feedback, allowing Utilities and Energy Management Branch of the Public Works Department to respond to issues quickly and efficiently, and returning the facility to full service. This is a vital consideration, in light of the critical mission that NSF Indian Head serves in its role as the Navy's premier energetics research and production facility.
The development aligns NSF Indian Head with the Department of the Navy's Great Green Fleet initiative, a yearlong project to transform energy use in the fleet and ashore.
Standing up the new decentralized steam system was a considerable undertaking, involving years of planning and construction, but it was a critical step forward for NSF Indian Head and the Navy's overall effort to make its fleet green. Ensuring that the old Goddard Power Plant is safely taken offline and demolished in an ecologically sound way is just as important.
It was a bittersweet moment for the men and women whose labor in the plant supported the national defense for decades. But beyond the efficiency, cost and pollution data that clearly underscored the need for a change at NSF Indian Head, is a far more compelling reason: to keep pace with a Navy that is becoming leaner, meaner and greener with every passing day.
For more news from Naval Support Activity South Potomac, visit www.navy.mil/local/NSASP/.