Most people realize that a main benefit of using solar panels to generate energy is the ability to decentralize power production, but have you ever imagined what those implications could mean in an overseas defense scenario?
A recent report states that U.S. soldiers have been utilizing solar power in the Afghanistan War for around two years. Their solar power equipment ranges stationary solar arrays to solar backpack kits, and includes 38kW solar-hybrid generators used by U.S. Special Forces.
Solar hybrid generators have a number of benefits over standard diesel powered. The biggest benefit is the constant availability of “fuel” via the intense desert sun. Another main benefit is the cost, or lack thereof, of this solar fuel. Solar hybrid generators also have less moving parts which translates to less wear and tear and better longevity.
Using the sun as a fuel source allows the U.S. Army to “untether” from fuel lines that restrict just how far a convoy can travel to set up a new base camp. Solar powered tents have been utilized since 2010 to provide shelter from the harsh and hot climate overseas as well as provide clean energy in remote locations to power critical communication devices, laptops, and other electronics.
One of the most amazing features of the solar powered tents is how much money they have already saved on fuel costs. Since the solar cells are connected to a system of storage batteries, less money is spent on vehicles driving back and forth to transport fuel. That also means spending less money on replacement parts for vehicles that can break down during these fuel runs.
In September 2011 the Army launched the Energy Initiatives Office, the mission of which is to engage the private sector in identifying and investing in big green power projects that could be built on the Army’s vast land holdings. 4,700 military homes on the Fort Bliss, TX military base are scheduled to be installed with photovoltaic solar panels under a U.S. Army Energy Initiative which includes the goal of extracting 25% of it’s energy from renewable sources by 2025.