The US military has long been a method of change for the country it defends, forcing racial integration into its ranks and bringing about the dawn of the internet. Whether it be through social awareness of technological advances, the US military is helping to change the United States.
And now it has set its sights on bringing a measure of green to the country for which its woman and men die for.
Towards the end of last month I wrote an article entitled ‘US Army Works to Cut its Carbon “Bootprint”… ba du bum!’ My disdain for the clever journalistic titles aside, the article focused on the ways that the US army is looking to make environmentally friendly changes.
Following up on that same trend, Alan Shaffer, a retired Air Force officer who leads the Pentagon’s research and engineering arm, toured Californian military bases last week. His focus was to look at bases that test energy efficiency and renewable power. But he also knows that the US military has the opportunity to make changes for America, and not just itself.
“It’s only the Department of Defense that is big enough and has the federal mandate for the necessary scope of development” of new energy efficient technologies and products, Shafer said. This size is seen most clearly in the fact that the Defense Department makes up for a whopping 1.5% of US energy consumption.
One such technology that the military is working on is a portable solar and wind power station, being developed at the Army’s Fort Irwin in California. Within six years, such a device could bring electricity back to locations that have, for example, been damaged by a hurricane.
And the military commanders hope that, as with the internet, these advances will one day trickle down in to everyday household use.
The search for renewable sources is not a new trend for the military either. The largest solar power array in the US belongs at Nellis Air Force Base outside Las Vegas, Nevada. Guantanamo Bay is powered by wind turbines, and a geothermal power plant has provided China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station in California with its energy for two decades.
All in all, let us hope that more international militaries take a similar approach to the US military. And for how going green is going to save lives on battlefronts, check out my last article on the US military.
U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Robert Valenca
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