Is the U.S. Army taking command of the smart grid?


By: SGN Staff


Quick Take: Even though there are numerous civilian microgrids underway, the military is marching forward rapidly on batteries, energy efficiency and renewables - and possibly most importantly - tying them all together into smart microgrids. - Jesse Berst


Jesse Berst, founder and chief analyst of Smart Grid News, has been covering smart grid technology and marketing trends for the past decade.


The U.S Army may not be leading the charge toward a smart grid future - it just seems like it sometimes. This week the Army commissioned a Smart Charging Micro-Grid from PowerSecure International, Inc. to help it cut fuel consumption and costs, and to improve safety, power reliability and availability at remote Army locations. It also awarded a $730,441 contract to International Battery for a hybrid energy storage system for its combat tanks and Stryker armored vehicles.


The Smart Charging Micro-Grid, commissioned at Wheeler Army Airfield in Hawaii, also allows the Army to integrate renewables like solar and optional wind power and enables its EVs to be charged by and give power back to it. And, it's also a battlefield safety issue because the ability of remote operations to generate power means fewer dangerous (and incredibly expensive) fuel transport convoys. The PowerSecure system also is designed to allow the Army to reduce the number and size of generators needed to provide power at those locations.


The International Battery contract awarded by the Army's Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center calls for the designer and manufacturer of large-format lithium-ion rechargeable batteries to develop a hybrid energy storage solution for tanks and armored vehicles under the Army's Silent Watch program.

International Battery will work on advanced testing and delivery of systems that are ruggedized, have no heat signature, can handle wide temperature swings and are lighter than lead-acid batteries. Under the contract, the company also will develop a hybrid battery system that will use lithium iron phosphate cells for energy and ultracapacitors for power.


It's not just the Army. The Department of Defense is getting into energy efficiency improvements for its existing buildings, and the Air Force and Navy are involved in biofuels projects and more.


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