US-marinesEven if the US government is somehow behind it doesn’t mean that the US army will do the same. The most powerful, gadget-in-a-pocket army has made one more step to energy independence by converting relentless sun activity to a source of solar energy. Now the marines will have portable, sustainable energy-harvesting systems like a new 300-watt photovoltaic and battery arrangement called the Ground Renewable Expeditionary ENergy System, or GREENS. Yep, hip-hip artist now have one more rhyme – “marines gone GREENS”!

Fueled by the sun, GREENS is a 300-watt, photovoltaic/battery system that provides continuous power to Marines in the field. the Office of Naval Research (ONR) began exploring the GREENS idea in fall 2008 in response to a Marine Corps requirement from Iraq for an expeditionary renewable power system.

“It’s vitally important to have power in the battlefield especially these days in an irregular warfare environment,” said Marine Col. Thomas Williams, a senior officer at ONR. “There’s a high demand for computing devices, targeting systems and communications devices in the field.  Small tactical Marine units are widely dispersed, and they require power and resupply.”

By reducing the logistical supply chain for fuel, GREENS, and other projects like it, will help cut fuel use, cost and the associated threats to vehicle resupply convoys in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“There are two pieces to the program,” said Dr. Michele Anderson, ONR’s program officer responsible for the effort. “One is a hardware demonstrator that is a hybrid photovoltaic battery system to enable the Marine Corps to use solar energy.”

“The other piece is a tool kit,” Anderson continued. “In other words, a Marine can enter into the GREENS computer what their expected mission profile is, and it will tell them which components of the GREENS system to pull out and take with them in order to provide their renewable power needs.”

The GREENS system has undergone continuous power testing at Naval Air Warfare Center, China Lake, Calif., where ambient temperatures exceeded 116 degrees Fahrenheit. Even under the extreme temperatures, the system provided 85 percent of the rated energy. This performance exceeded expectations, prompting rapid development and accelerating procurement of the final design.

GREENS was a featured program at the ONR-sponsored Naval Energy Forum and is just one of the many innovative ways the future battlefield will be powered. The deployment of this technology will equip the Marine Corps with new capability and knowledge of how renewable energy can make a difference.

You know what? If there’s a military research, you can bet anything civilians will have a bite of the technology soon…  But the army might start fighting for some sun now instead of oil!

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