Portable renewable energy is the wave of the future for the U.S. military. The U.S. marines are field-testing solar power backpack kits, the Army is looking into shippable, micro-mini renewable energy grids, and the Air Force is getting solar power in shipping containers – and that’s just for starters. In one of the latest efforts, a company called SkyBuilt is providing $2.1 million worth of portable solar power systems and wind power equipment for NAVAIR, the Naval Systems Air Command. So…does this mean we’ll see more support for clean energy funding from the majority party in the U.S. House of Representatives?
SkyBuilt’s Portable Wind and Solar Energy Systems
SkyBuilt patented its basic portable renewable power system back in 2007. It can fit in a standard shipping container, and it functions like a portable micro-grid. Along with solar and wind power, the system can also integrate micro-hydro power, liquid fuels, and gas fuels, including biofuels. Aside from its potential for application in military operations and disaster relief, it was also designed to be used as an unmanned station that rarely if ever needs conventional fuel deliveries. The system was designed with minimum maintenance in mind, and it can be operated by remote control.
Renewable Energy, Fossil Fuels and National Defense
Regular readers of CleanTechnica already have the scoop on the military’s efforts to transition out of fossil fuels altogether, since the topic gets regular coverage here. It’s a deeply grounded, long term national defense strategy that takes domestic military facilities off-grid, streamlines the logistics of fuel supply to overseas operations, and reduces the risk to troops from guarding fuel convoys (the troop safety risk related to has gotten to the point where the Navy is planning to deploy its first ever unmanned cargo flights in Afghanistan, to help keep trucks off the road).
Clean Energy and The “Real” American Jobs Act
The Obama administration’s progressive approach to clean energy policy is fully consistent with the Pentagon’s push for renewables, but the majority party in the House has gotten itself into something of a pickle over the issue. On the one hand, this is the party traditionally associated with full-on support for our troops, but on the other hand it hasn’t exactly extended itself to translate that support into energy policies that improve force effectiveness while reducing troop risk. This tension is most recently revealed in the House Republicans’ Real American Jobs Act, which is in full conflict with the Department of Defense on future energy policy: it increases federal support for fossil fuels while rolling back environmental regulations that support the development of renewable energy.
Image Credit: Portable remote solar and wind power station courtesy of SkyBuilt.
Tina Casey specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. You can also follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.