Military Micro-Grids Require Advanced Analytics
One of the goals of many individuals and organizations pushing hard for environmentalism is the idea of micro-grids.  Essentially, micro-grids would be small electric systems with their own generation that would serve a small geographic area.  They would be separate from the nationwide interconnected grid that has made modern civilization possible.
Micro-grids offer some interesting technological challenges, especially if, as the environmentalists would prefer, they rely upon “renewable” forms of generation, primarily wind and solar, although geothermal, hydro and other alternatives are possible.  The U.S. military knows a great deal about micro-grids, they operate them all the time when armies are in the field.  However, those grids are built around portable diesel generators, which is something the environmentalists don’t like.
There currently is a report out by Red Mountain Insights called Military Micro-grids Market Potential that says: The DoD (Department of Defense) moves about 50 million gallons of fuel monthly in Afghanistan, much of which is for power generation. The fuel powers more than 15,000 generators in Afghanistan alone. What if, through use of Micro-grid technologies, the military could cut that fuel transportation and use in half?”
By “micro-grid technologies” the report goes on to describe that “independent micro-grids that integrate distributed renewable generation, electric vehicles, and demand response at its bases.”  Having been in combat with heavy armored units of the U.S. military myself, I can tell you that electric vehicles are a long way from being capable of meeting those demands.  Renewable technologies for electric generation also aren’t very portable.  However, as the report points out, there could be options for micro-grids at fixed, peace-time military bases. 
It’s an interesting concept, but one that will require a lot of advanced analytics.  An army that can’t move is pretty much a sitting duck.  Windmills and solar panels aren’t my idea of something to deal with when the command is, as I have heard it given deep behind enemy lines: “Mount up, we’re moving out in five minutes!”  In that case, it was a full battalion of heavy M-1 Abrams tanks and all its very-portable support functions.  Electric vehicles, windmills and solar panels weren’t on the TOE (table of organization and equipment), nor could they be.
–Warren B. Causey

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  1. Marilyn Walker says:

    Fuel deliveries have been the #1 cause of casualties in Afghanistan. So reducing dependence on liquid fuels saves American lives. And actually, solar panels and batteries are on equipment lists now.

  2. Warren Causey says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Warren Causey says:

    Thank you for your comment Marilyn! Given that I’ve been retired from the military for nearly two decades now and given the “leadership” in Washington these days, I don’t doubt the second part of your comment. Such things probably are on the TOEs of some units now. I do, however, question the first part. Casualties caused by attacks on fuel convoys are not caused by “fuel deliveries” but by enemy action. I also question that such attacks are the No. 1 cause of casualties in that nasty guerrilla war. I’d have to see some numbers to buy that part. Best wishes and comment often.–Warren

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