To Navy Veteran, Paul, and Ed,
First off, thanks for the great comments, I think this is a very important issue to be disgussing.
The military's move towards renewable energy sources will happen because of the tactical advantages they afford, the fiscal savings and environmental advantages of moving towards renewable energy in the field are just beneficial byproducts. The military's central goal should always be to make our nation and troops safer. When those priorities align with fiscal savings and environmental advantages the opportunity should be seized. While it would seem reasonable that the military would adopt technologies that are tactically advantageous, in this case the adoption could be costly and slow during a period of a frozen, and soon shrinking, DoD budget.
A recent NPR article interviewed the Marines and sailors of 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regimen. The 150 marines of company I arrived last year in Helmand Province bearing portable solar panels that fold up into boxes; energy-conserving lights; solar tent shields that provide shade and electricity; solar chargers for computers and communications equipment. Those Marines said that the equipment helped them in three main ways:
- "Fewer Supply Convoys — With less need for fuel and batteries, fewer trucks are exposed to possible attacks on the road.
- Quieter Is Safer — Units that rely on diesel generators to keep equipment running at night could go quiet while running on batteries, making them harder for the enemy to find.
- Efficiency — The foldable solar blankets are light and don't take up much space. That should help patrols' mobility, and save space for other supplies — like ammunition, as one sergeant says"
That renewables provide tactical and strategic advantages both at home and in the field is no secret within the military. See the below military reports and links to get a better sense of the role the members of the military envision renewables playing in the future: