Elizabeth, one of the biggest problems in military operations is supply. Long supply lines for bulky supplies such as fuel and batteries can slow down a force. With lower power electronics and renewables the soldier can, as your article discusses, become more mobile. The hallmark of the US soldier is mobility and firepower. This is another great example of how the Army is doing research to improve its already impressive capability.
It's really nice to see the efforts being done to facilitate the army using renewables @Elizabeth. Apart from the things you mentioned above, this initiative would also help to provide energy to remote areas where the Army is often located. Small Solar Systems could be installed in these areas, providing sufficient energy to run essential equipment that could help the soldiers. There are a lot of obstacles in providing electricity through grid to these far off places, so this could be a preferable alternative.
It great that at a far off area solar power is providing 19000 personnels with basic energy need.Producing 3200 MWh at one place encourages other to do so at other areas by minimising dependency on external sources and increases the effeciency.
It looks like the Air Force wins in terms of military renewable energy projects. The biggest military solar power plant in the US has just been completed at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona, a 16.4 megawatt installation that is expected to save about $500,000 in electricity costs yearly and provide about 35 percent of the base's electricity needs.
The Army Corps of Engineers and Energy Initiatives Task Force announced 15 contracts for military solar power, which is pretty impressive, but that was a preliminary step involving the formation of a pool of eligible bidders for future projects.
Yes, Lou, it's interesting how solar is becoming a way the Army can achieve other goals, making the military an investor in green energy without the energy aspect of it being the most important part of the equation, if you understand what I mean. So by using an alternative energy source, they are making soldiers more mobile and achieving some of their own goals.
far911, I agree with you, and actually there are a few things like this that are becoming available for consumers. I am not sure about solar harvesters but I have written about energy-harvesting clothing that people can wear that can help charge things when they are not near electrical outlets.
You mention hiking, and actually a story I wrote about a company that has invented energy-harvesting insoles for hiking shoes: http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1386&doc_id=267997
This could provide the type of charging you're talking about.
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