Should Portable Solar Generators Only Supplement 30% Of Military’s Forward Positions?

The U.S. military has long knows what mainstream American is just waking up too and that is the sun is an equal opportunity energy source. Should mobile portable solar power generators and off-grid power merely supplement 30% of all of the military’s forward position fossil fuel needs for power, billions of dollars and the safety of hundreds of thousands of troop exposure days would be saved.

Solar energy shines on every where and unlike oil, which is vulnerable to politically-driven interruptions and so called market driven price fluctuations, solar is very portable. Solar energy is better than other sources because it cannot be depleted. Once solar technology is manufactured on a larger scale everyone will have a cheap inexhaustible source of energy for all to enjoy. Read More –

The U.S. Army has zeroed in on five portable solar devices  and off grid battery chargers for soldiers on the go according to Tina Casey at Cleantechnica. The U.S. military is undertaking a massive shift away from petroleum and other fossil fuels, and into a new clean energy future that relies on solar power, geothermal power, and other sustainable sources.

Much of the activity is focused on large solar installations at military bases, such as a new solar array at Pearl Harbor and new geothermal facilities at Fort Drum. However, some of the most interesting stuff is portable solar power, designed for the highmobility, energy-scavenging fighting force of the future. It can’t come a moment to soon, as witnessed by the logistical nightmare of trucking in conventional fuel to troops in Afghanistan.

Here are five new portable solar technologies to look out for:

Solar Power in a Shipping Container

Portable batteries and solar arrays at Air Force bases are soon to be a common sight. The Air Force’s sustainability plan includes developing portable solar arrays and batteries that are designed to fit into standard shipping containers. To be built by Lockheed Martin, the solar in-a-shipping-container concept is actually part of a larger sustainability program called Basic Expeditionary Airfield Resources (BEAR), which is designed to cut fuel consumption and integrate more portable solar energy systems into mobile bases.

Solar-in-a-Suitcase for the U.S. Marines

When it comes to portability, the U.S. Marines have gone a step further than the Air Force. They have developed a solar array that folds into a suitcase for ease of transportation, called the Ground Renewable Expeditionary ENergy System – GREENS, of course. The system consists of stackable solar arrays combined with rechargeable batteries, and with a steady output of 300 watts it can replace the small field generators currently in use.

Solar Power in a Backpack for the Army

Going the Marines one better, the Army has begun to use portable, flexible solar panels that can be rolled up and tucked into a backpack. The whole system, called the Rucksack Enhanced Portable Power System (REPPS), weighs only ten pounds and generates 62 watts. The system includes connections and accessories that enable it to recharge many common military batteries, run electronic devices, convert AC to DC, and scavenge power on sunless days from wall outlets and vehicle cigarette lighters.

Bring-Your-Own Portable Microgrid

The military is beginning to develop “smart” microgrids for its bases that, like the REPPS, can adapt to multiple energy sources including portable solar power. TARDEC, the Army’s vehicle research center, has also developed a mobile microgrid system called the Electronic Power Control and Conditioning (EPCC) microgrid, which can run off conventional fuel as well as wind and solar. It was recently tested to power runway lights at an Air National Guard base.

Next-Generation Portable Solar Power

Last year DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, solicited proposals for a revolutionary new solar photovoltaic devices and deep cycle batteries that would fit the Defense Department’s need for efficiency, durability, flexibility, and above all, portability. Other DARPA projects (Internet, much?) have crossed over into civilian use, so the U.S. military’s transition to portable sustainable energy is almost certain to bring about a profound change in the way we all get and use energy. The impact will have a cascading, ripple effect as more troops are trained in solar equipment and other forms of sustainable energy and begin demanding similar devices for use at home. Reuters Contributor