There is more to the rationale for the U.S.
military to go green with vehicles and weapons than to simply conserve fuel.
Helping the environment is one thing, but the military is looking at saving
lives by requiring less fuel, which means fewer supply runs to remote bases
where soldiers are subject to attack in route.
The Office of Naval Research (ONR) has been
conducting research into a new energy system that uses green and sustainable
power from solar energy. The goal is to reduce the need for fuel to allow
soldiers to operate for longer periods and reduce the dependence on fuel runs.
The ONR breakthrough has now been demonstrated in Afghanistan as a viable
Rear Admiral Nevin Carr, chief of Naval Research
said, "The early results from the front indicate the ability of ONR and
its Marine Corps partners to make a difference in survivability and efficiency
for our warfighters. We have successfully transitioned commercial alternative
energy systems to Afghanistan to reduce dependency on fossil fuels and
batteries," he added. "By doing so, there is potential for the Marine
Corps to cut back the number of resupply convoys to these remote locations and
save lives by keeping Marines clear of IED attacks."
The Marines have been operating
an experimental forward operating base using the
Ground Renewable Energy Networks (GREENS), Solar Portable Alternative
Communications Energy System (SPACES), LEG lighting, solar Shades, and Solar
Light Trailers. The demonstration of the technology has been successful.
SPACES is a lightweight solar panel system that is
able to recharge batteries allowing the marines to conduct missions further
from the base. The GREENS system is a 300W photovoltaic/battery system that is
able to provide power to the marines in the field and using the system has
reduced the need for fuel from 25 gallons per day down to two to three gallons
of fuel per day.
"The demo [was] successful because the ExFOB
team trained the Marines of 3/5 on the strengths and limits of renewable and
energy efficient technologies that are being employed," said Col. Bob
Charette, director of the USMC Expeditionary Energy Office (E2O). "I
believe our young Marines are more accepting of renewable energy technology
because of all the discussion in the media and society regarding 'green'
energy," he added.
The ONR is also conducting research into other
technologies that are similar for purifying water and more needs. The tech used
in the demonstration in Afghanistan came out of an RFI that the ONR issued in
"We were looking for technologies that could
have immediate impact on getting Marines off the roads hauling fuel and
water," Charette added
The success of the test base comes on the heels of
harsh criticism on the Navy's plans
for biofuel use.