Dan Cass pointed with this tweet to an interesting article at the official American Army website, titled “Soldiers using sunlight to improve combat capability”.
The article explains the many ways that solar power is superior to burning diesel fuel for generating electricity in Afghanistan (the American Army has some forces there).
Right now, they have deployed “10 generators” with a capacity to generate about 700 MWh a year, which is about half of what they are using. So here are some advantages:
One. They cut their use of diesel fuel for electricity generation in half. That saves 185 truck loads per year of fuel, which means the systems pay for themselves in 2.5 months.
Two. They don’t need as many flights hauling fuel, which frees the aircraft for other missions, as well as soldiers on the ground who need to secure drop zones for every flight.
Three. These systems are hybrid solar and diesel, and they have much less down time and need for repairs.
Four. The quality of the electricity is better, more stable than with diesel generators, which improves daramatically the performance of sophisticated sensors and communications equipment.
Five. There are time slots where they have electricity to spare, and they provide that energy to local villages, increasing their support in the population.
That last point gives me little idea.
As everybody paying a little attention (including American president Obama) knows, global warming is the most serious threat to security in the 21st Century. It is certainly more serious than the threat of terrorism, which was the reason the Americans invaded Afghanistan.
So, if the Army gets some experience with deploying solar, why don’t they scale that up a bit? They could install one of these patented systems in every village in Afghanistan, just for starters.
And then, in a next step, every army worldwide could introduce specialised units that do nothing but deploy solar and wind energy, in close cooperation with other armies, preferably of countries they might be fighting against in some war or other.
Have a yearly event in some desert or other (I personally would like to start out in the Gobi) and have participating countries compete against each other in how effective their military is in deploying renewable energy. And then leave the assets, once installed, under international ownership of the World Bank, the Global Environment Facility, or the newly founded Green Climate Fund.
I may want to come back to this idea later. Any comments on how to make this work would be most welcome.