By George Jagels
For years now, the Pentagon has been trying to make renewable energy a significant part of battlefield electricity generation. Successes appear neither elusive nor numerous; like most programs, these department-wide efforts have proceeded in fits and starts. Micro wind turbines (producing less than 2,000 watts) have made appearances in a few cases (for example, CERDEC’s RENEWS system), but they are far from ubiquitous at forward operating bases and combat outposts. Once deployed, many small wind turbines are finicky and prone to breakdowns, too often wilting under the stresses of military life.
However, the military itself, as well as industry, is successfully using durable micro wind turbines—in fact, they have for years. The Superwind 350 has been quietly deployed by the DoD, just as it has for well-known commercial users in the oil and gas, mining, security, and telecom industries since 2004. For companies like ITT, Rio Tinto, and Raytheon, reliable autonomous operation is crucial to power communications equipment, cameras, optics, and numerous types of sensors in remote areas.