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Windpower and the military: an

The US military is taking a lead in using economically-viable wind farms to generate low-cost energy for its installations around the US and abroad. While, at face value, this seems to be excellent news for the renewables industry, there is a potential major flaw in the plan, as PES discovers… It was recently reported that the US Army wanted to adopt a new type of renewable energy-based technology.


More specifically, our boys on the front line, want to be able to draw on wind power to provide energy to gadgets and devices and are therefore requesting prototypes of small-scale, portable wind turbines. In recent years, the US military has placed increasing emphasis on developing and implementing environmentally-friendly technologies. In terms of sheer size, the US Department of Defense can make un-ignorable waves in this business, since it accounts for an impressive 1.5% of the nation’s energy consumption.

The military has now set itself an enviable target that 25 per cent of its energy should come from renewable sources by 2025. What’s more it aims to create machines and methods to help ‘Main Street America’ reach similar targets. By 2015, a portable solar and wind-power station at the Army’s Fort Irwin in California could bring a quick return of electricity to hurricane-damaged coastal cities, said retired Colonel John Spiller. “These energy technologies may one day spread to households, as a by-product of a more efficient military,” added Colonel Dave Belote, Commander of Nellis Air Force Base, Las Vegas, Nevada. The biggest solar power array in the US has been operating at Nellis in a public-private partnership.

Arguably, we in the US are following a lead already established by the Chinese in 2007. At the time, China’s Commission of Science Technology and Industry for National Defense announced it was encouraging military industrial enterprises to accelerate the development of wind power. “China should fully exploit technological advantages in the military industry sector to upgrade its wind power sector and make wind power equipment a new economic growth point for the military industry,” a statement said.

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