Solar Energy Helps to Save Lives
An army is not usually known for being green and eco friendly.
But the US Army had a problem.
And renewable energy is helping to solve it.
It’s not because the Army wants to go green. But it’s working.
Army bases need power. In remote areas this power is usually provided by diesel generators. Fuel for the generators needs to be trucked in.
In places like Afghanistan, those fuel supply truck convoys are vulnerable to attack, and casualties can be high. In fact, protecting fuel convoys is one of the most dangerous jobs there.
“A fuel tanker can be shot at and blown up. The sun’s rays will still be there” noted one Army man.
So the US Army is now spending considerable amounts of money going solar, recycling water and using better-insulated tents.
Making a Difference?
To do a comparison:
One site in Afghanistan didn’t have enough fuel at one point to run the diesel generators, so they tapped Humvees for some power. This required soldiers to drive the vehicles around in the middle of the night to recharge the vehicle batteries.
Compare this with solar power. At another outpost, solar power fuels batteries which run lights at night – silently. As one soldier put it “That was the first time I slept through the night”.
The Army is not going solar because it’s green. Nor so that some soldiers can sleep better.
It’s because it saves lives.
Once solar power is set up and installed, it doesn’t need diesel fuel to be transported to it. The sun keeps on shining.
Fewer fuel convoys means fewer lives at risk.
And in some cases, the technology paid for itself within a year.
The Army also is using diesel generators more efficiently. Large generators are normally used, so sometimes you might have a 10-kilowatt load need being driven by a 100-kilowatt generator. Not only is that inefficient, but it also meant more fuel lines, leading to more casualties.
So some sites now use several small units instead of a few big generators.
Some camps now use showers that curb water demand by a massive 75 percent – they recycle what flows down the drain. Every gallon reused is one less to be trucked in.
Irrespective of the green aspect, these changes simply make sense.
There are times when renewable energy simply isn’t practical for the Army – sometimes it’s heavier and more fragile, and that causes problems when they need to move quickly. But for Army camps that don’t need to be highly mobile, it could be a good option.
Using greener technology simply make sense for other reasons, such as saving lives and improving efficiency. There is also the US Government’s request to cut carbon emissions by 2020 – the Army needed to play its part.
But whatever the reasons, I’m glad to see any reduction in the use of fossil fuels. It’s better for the environment no matter why it’s being done.
What do you think? Let me know in the Comments below.
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