RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire is the largest station in the RAF with approximately 6,000 service personnel and 1,400 Ministry of Defence (MOD) civil servants and contractors working at the site. It is the home of the Air Mobility Squadrons and, as the main airport used for deploying UK troops Worldwide, Brize Norton is the ‘gateway to operations’.
The MOD itself has an estate valued at almost £20 billion, with around 4,000 sites across the UK. Many of these sites hold energy intensive equipment ranging from large machinery to computer systems, plus accommodation and staff services. The cost of energy required to power Defence equipment runs at £450m per year.
Couple this with the fact that the MOD is under pressure to reduce spending due to public sector cut backs and the need to become more energy efficient is clear. If MOD sites can reduce energy spend, it will go a long way towards hitting its financial targets. Not only this, but they take a giant leap towards meeting the MOD’s Greening Government Commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2015. As such, the MOD faces an energy challenge unparalleled by most other organisations. As its largest station, RAF Brize Norton is at the centre of this.
In 2011, RAF Brize Norton identified the need to overhaul its utility management systems to help achieve the required energy and, ultimately, cost savings. The station was under added pressure because energy savings were required to be hit within three years.
Core management decision makers at Brize Norton discussed the challenges and identified where energy could be saved. During this audit, it was acknowledged that some technologies were operating at too high a voltage. Brize Norton is not alone in this problem – around 90 per cent of UK buildings use more electricity than needed because the incoming voltage is too high, meaning they overpay for electricity by 15 per cent and emit up to 15% more CO2.
Figures like this prompted Brize Norton to look at voltage optimisation technology as a way of improving the station’s sustainability. Having done industry research into such technology, management identified powerPerfector as the right partner to achieve the energy and cost savings required, with the station’s in-flight catering function and traffic control centre chosen to be fitted with powerPerfector technology.
Since installation in 2011, powerPerfector’s technology has been monitoring energy saved in both the in-flight catering production and traffic control area of RAF Brize Norton. Although still awaiting confirmation of savings at traffic control, the results from in-flight catering have been significant and have given Brize Norton even more confidence in the powerPerfector technology.
In just over two years, RAF Brize Norton has achieved savings of 10.5% kWh, 95,500kg of CO2 and an estimated financial saving of over £14,000 per year.
These savings have in fact exceeded expectations with Brize Norton setting a target of eight per cent kWh savings – meaning actual results are over 2% higher than anticipated. Following the success of this project, the station has since bid for £2m funding to further invest in sustainability with a view to saving more and more energy in the coming years.