Tag Archives: Navy

Abundance and Utility

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For Military Operations, Liquid Fuels Remain a Solid Choice over Natural Gas

By Bret Strogen and Patrick Lobner

Military energy strategists often recount the British Royal Navy’s decision in the early twentieth century to convert ships from coal to oil fuel. This transition improved their capability by reducing fuel handling personnel, increasing ship speed, and doubling travel range, though it required expensive testing and retrofitting of ships with new engines, and introduced risks by relying on a less familiar fuel that would need to be sourced internationally (whereas British coal was plentiful).(1) In hindsight a smart and inevitable decision, at the time many experts argued against the shift. Today, similar to the Royal Navy’s decision point a hundred years ago, any shift away from liquid fuels must undergo intense scrutiny to ensure such a transition increases the U.S. military’s capability.

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The Missing Piece: Micro Wind Turbines In Theater

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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.

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Operational Energy by the Numbers

Take a look at the DoD’s energy use by the numbers. Assistant Secretary of Defense for Operational Energy Plans and Programs Sharon Burke has worked diligently over the past few years to make energy a greater consideration in acquisition and strategy. (Graphic courtesy of OASD OEPP)

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