Green war games: NATO to test renewable energy for battlefield, humanitarian ops

Reuters / Heinz-Peter Bader

Reuters / Heinz-Peter Bader

Being green does not mean peaceful any more as defense companies join NATO in testing renewable power, in particular solar batteries and wind turbines, for battles and humanitarian operations.

Some 1,000 NATO soldiers
will spend 12 days in June in Hungary testing smart energy
technology like self-contained power grids, solar panels and wind
turbines, Bloomberg reports citing Susanne Michaelis,
the organization’s action officer for smart energy.

Companies including US unit of French aerospace company Thales
SA, Thales Defense Security, Germany-based Multicon Solar
AG and Austria’s Smartflower Energy Technology GmbH are
collaborating with the NATO on the project.

Among the technology to be tested are small solar power plants,
which open like flowers to the sun within 10 minutes,
solar-powered battery chargers and highly insulated tents. All of
them should replace traditional fuels delivered via vulnerable
supply lines.

According to NATO, the test comes after 3,000 US soldiers were
killed or wounded in attacks on water and fuel convoys in
Afghanistan and Iraq.

“A lot of people are crippled or die transporting fuel and
water. If you attack a fuel truck, it explodes and burns all
fuel. There’s no stopping it. If you shoot at solar cells, one
may break, but it doesn’t explode and all the other cells will
still be working,”
Michaelis told Bloomberg.

To test the smart energy equipment, NATO soldiers will simulate
power cuts, flooded roads and diesel and water contamination, as
part of war-game scenarios.

Big customers from military industry can offer power companies
the market which is less dependent on global economy fluctuations
than any firm from private sector, according to Michaelis.

By 2025 the US Army plans to install 1 gigawatt of renewable
capacity at its bases, Bloomberg says.

To cut the number of supply convoys in the most dangerous
missions, NATO commanders want to squeeze the most from energy
sources and make them more efficient.

In countries like Afghanistan, NATO spends 5 gallons of fuel to
deliver 1 gallon, according to NATO’s assistant secretary-general
for emerging security challenges, Sorin Ducaru.

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