The Department of Defense has made headlines for using biofuels to power its’ planes and ships, but clean energy innovations may have a bigger impact by reducing the carbon bootprint of military while saving lives on the battlefield. New technologies are reducing the weight of equipment soldiers carry into battle, powering military bases, and creating a fleet of electric vehicles.
energyNOW! correspondent Lee Patrick Sullivan looked into how the U.S. Army and Air Force’s emphasis on clean energy technology has built the largest solar installation in the Western Hemisphere, invented next-generation batteries and personal solar chargers, and brought extended-range electric battlefield vehicles from concept to reality. Check out his coverage here:
Solar power has, arguably, been the military’s brightest clean energy success story. Nellis Air Force Base, outside Las Vegas, is home to the largest solar array in the Western Hemisphere. The 72,000 solar panels at Nellis provide 25 percent of the base’s electricity and save the U.S. Air Force $1 million dollars a year in energy costs. In addition, the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs boasts a solar array generating enough renewable energy to power 1,200 homes a year. Both are part of an effort to generate at least 20 percent of all Air Force energy needs from renewables by 2020.
Clean energy innovations are also making soldiers more mobile by reducing the amount of gear they need to carry into combat. The Army research Lab in Maryland is developing advanced batteries that weigh less and last longer than existing models. A prototype model can replace 10 lithium ion batteries, and the REPPS solar blanket can set up and start generating clean energy in under a minute.
The Army is also working on electrifying its non-combat vehicle fleet. The CERV light vehicle uses the same technology found in Fisker extended range electric vehicles, and are being eyed for medical evacuation duties. “If you have to go in on a mission to bring some injured troops back, and you don’t want the enemy to hear you, if you run silently off batteries, that’s perfect,” said Paul Skalny of the Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center.
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Silvio is Principal at Marcacci Communications, a full-service clean energy public relations company based in Washington, D.C.