Key U.S. air base in Japan strives to make its power system more energy efficient

Yokota Air Base, a major US air transport hub in western Tokyo, is improving its electrical system as part of a $ 166 million project to improve its energy efficiency. (Juan King / Stars and Stripes)

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan Among the many construction projects underway at this Air Force facility west of Tokyo, one aims to make its power plants more efficient and reduce their environmental impact.

Yokota, a major US air transport hub, is improving its power system as part of a $ 166 million project to improve its energy efficiency, Jackens Eugene, installation manager, told Stars and Stripes. 374th Civil Engineer Squadron Civil Engineer Squadron Sept. 13.

The project started a year ago with a completion date of 2023, according to the base’s public affairs office. It includes upgrades to the existing boiler system that supplies heat to the building and improvements to the lighting, ventilation and air conditioning around the facility.

However, the centerpiece of the project is a new cogeneration plant, or cogeneration plant, powered by natural gas to produce steam and electricity. It will generate 10 megawatts as the base’s main power station.

The steam generators in the system will take advantage of the excess heat to produce more steam to heat the buildings.

The new combined heat and power plant, which is under construction behind the exchanger, will also produce steam for the north and south sides of the base, Eugene said. During the summer, the north power station will be on standby.

Until the project is complete, base residents may experience growing pains, Eugene said.

“There will be a lot of blackouts due to the electrical work needed at the site,” he said.

Eugene said he is also planning “numerous road closures” to operate a gas, condensate and fiber line in the area along Tunner Street between the new plant and Airlift Avenue.

The plant will reduce Yokota’s dependence on Tama’s power grid outside the base, Eugene said.

During the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in 2011, demands on the grid forced its Japanese operators to choose where to provide electricity, according to an article about the project on the air base’s website. The new plant will return electricity to the local grid, the base’s public affairs office said.

The plant will also work in conjunction with a ‘smart grid’ control system to help regulate the power supply to the base by turning off systems not in use and maintaining appropriate levels in higher priority areas, such as airfield, Eugene said.

The project contractor, Schneider Electric, a multinational company based in France, is performing the work under an energy saving performance contract, as part of the energy saving initiative from the US Department of Defense and Energy, according to the Yokota Public Affairs Office.

Under the contract, Schneider recovers its payment from the savings the new combined heat and power generates over its lifetime, according to the base.

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Twitter: @ juanking_17

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