Tag Archives: renewable energy

The Missing Piece: Micro Wind Turbines In Theater

SW crop

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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The Institutional Advantage: Building an Energy-informed Military

Asst Secretary of Defense for Operational Energy Sharon Burke

Asst Secretary of Defense for Operational Energy Sharon Burke

We interviewed Assistant Secretary of Defense for Operational Energy Plans and Programs Sharon Burke in October 2013. Clearly passionate about the subject and deeply engaged in making energy a priority in planning, Ms. Burke discussed a wide range of problems and solutions that the Pentagon is addressing to make sure the lessons learned from the past 13 years are applied to future operations.

DoD PEP: Please describe your office’s background and basic functions.

Ms. Burke: Operational energy is the energy used to move, train, and sustain military forces. This comes out to about three-quarters of the energy the Department uses in any given year. Last year, this cost about $16 billion. One-quarter is facilities, or installation, energy used to heat, cool, and light buildings. This is not an inconsequential bill for us; we’re a big business, and it’s a variable cost, so we manage using a variety of methods. In this space, we must also comply with laws, executive orders, regulations, and so forth, whereas operational energy is generally exempt from these regulations because it is so closely tied to military operations.
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Weekly Defense Notes

In the interest of not being like every site and giving you a daily news round up, each Friday Guns Over Butter will try to publish a list of stories that interested us over the past seven days. The following is a shorter list than we expect in the future. Here’s to new beginnings…

-Army approves participation in AUSA Annual meeting in D.C.

-John Kerry is in Afghanistan to discuss a security pact with President Karzai. The Afghan president is interested in a mutual security treaty—much like a NATO obligation—but he has been notoriously difficult to deal with in the past. The agreement will be critical to U.S. and NATO planning over the coming years.

-Want more realistic combat training? Here’s a pilotless F-16 that will be used for target practice.
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TDM’s Brief Retech Recap

In support of DoD Power, Energy & Propulsion, our magazine focusing on the military’s operational energy needs, Tactical Defense Media headed to RETECH 2013. Held annually in the DC area, RETECH works hard to inform the renewables industry on federal government and military energy requirements that they can fill. Here’s a short list of some comments we found interesting.

USAF Perspective

In the conference’s opening session, Douglas Tucker, Senior Facilities Energy Engineer, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Installations, Environment and Logistics, discussed the USAF’s requirements. He reinforced the idea that efficiency is critical—particularly in forward-deployed bases—while noting that in CONUS facilities are so diverse that one renewable energy standard for the whole service is very difficult to achieve. Moreover, he said, renewable energy must be “cost competitive and reliable.”

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Defense Notes: Radios,Smartphones, and Renewable Energy for the Army; Drones Get a Bad Rap

  • The Army has awarded General Dynamics a $5 million contract for 100 MUOS channel kits to upgrade its 100 PRC-155s, reports DoD Buzz. “With a smartphone-like flow of information, the upgraded PRC-155 radios will allow soldiers to access the MUOS communications system wherever they are deployed, on foot or from land vehicles, ships, submarines and aircraft.”
  • Aoptix and CACI recently received a contract from the Pentagon to develop Smart Mobile Identity devices. Aoptix will be integrating its biometric (iris,face, voice) capabilities into smartphones. This should lessen the load of deployed soldiers who now use a device devoted solely to this purpose. “We are pleased to have been selected by the DoD for this important project which will leverage our next-generation Smart Mobile Identity platform,” said Dean Senner, Chairman and CEO of AOptix. “Users of these systems in-field will benefit from a more compact, lightweight, versatile and accurate identity verification device than has previously been available. We are especially pleased to be working with CACI, leveraging its experience deploying sophisticated solutions for government agencies.”
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