It’s a story we’re hearing more and more often – the military is increasingly turning to renewable energy solutions because they simply work better than dirty energy sources. Testing is underway on the latest innovation at Virginia’s Fort Story:
The Navy’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal Training and Evaluation Unit 2 in Virginia has been testing five prototype lightweight field power kits that include solar cells as a key component. The kits replace fifty pounds of equipment with a compact system that weighs only about nine pounds.
The heart of the kit is a one-pound device called a Soldier Power Manager. The Power Manager functions like a smart micro-mini-grid. In contrast to a portable generator that runs only on diesel fuel, the Power Manager can receive energy from various sources including solar panels and fuel cells. It recharges other devices by cable attachments, eliminating the need for individual battery chargers.
The idea is just one of several developed thanks to suggestions given to the Office of Naval Research’s TechSolutions program:
Though the concept is basically the same as an old fashioned employee suggestion box, a single request can have a profound effect on operations. In one recent example, TechSolutions has been testing high efficiency LED bunk lights in response to a sailor’s complaint about noisy, outdated fluorescent fixtures. Aside from improving readiness and health the new lighting system has already yielded significant savings in energy, maintenance, storage and disposal logistics, and it may soon go fleetwide.
For the military, clean energy isn’t about politics – it’s about saving lives with fewer fuel convoys & more mobile soldiers. And as nice added benefits, clean energy also saves money and cuts the oil dependence & carbon pollution that threaten our national security.