Hawaii Air Force unit getting own power grid that uses trash

The Air Force unit that defends Hawaii skies will get experimental energy technology that uses trash to generate power and relies on its own small electrical grid — a system intended to keep the unit operating if a bomb, cyberattack or natural disaster knocks out the local utility.

The Air Force Research Laboratory is spending $6.8 million on a facility that will produce electricity for the Hawaii Air National Guard unit that flies F-22s, the nation’s most advanced fighter jet.

Under the plan, the facility and accompanying microgrid would be able to break off and operate independently from Hawaiian Electric.

The project will mark one of the first such uses of a microgrid on an Air Force base and the largest test yet of the trash-to-power system. The system is being tested on a small scale in Illinois.

U.S. Cyber Command chief Adm. Michael Rogers has warned it’s a matter of when, not if, attackers will target U.S. power systems. A cyberattack on Ukrainian power companies last year highlighted the vulnerability of power grids.

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