The U.S. Department of Defense is revolutionizing how it powers the armed forces for a number of reasons, it reduces dependence on foreign sources of fuel, provides energy pricing stability, is ideal for remote applications, but most importantly it can help save lives.
One company, SkyBuilt, is developing a Mobile Tactical Microgrid (MTM) to help power forces in the field, and it won a $2.1 million contract to provide rapidly deployable renewable power stations for NAVAIR's (Naval Air Systems Command) tracking systems.
The MTM consists of a military open trailer, a 3-kilowatt Tactical Quiet Generator, battery storage and high-efficiency solar blankets, the company said.
“SkyBuilt will be a subcontractor to CSC Applied Technology Group for NAVAIR's tracking systems under the SureTrak IDIQ,” the company said in a separate press release. “SkyBuilt's $2.1 million contract will utilize SkyBuilt's expertise in advanced technology, rapidly deployable solar and wind power for the harshest environmental conditions on and off-grid, and will use solar and wind power to reduce or eliminate the need for fuel.”
The MTM is designed to reduce the amount of fuel a military deployment needs.
“You have a lot of dumb generators in the field, producing too much load in the middle of the night. The mobile microgrid will sense what has been plugged in and prioritize the load,” said SkyBuilt CEO David Muchow.
That way, the grid can choose to run the generator when needed or rely on the solar and battery banks for power.
Because of how the military tracks movement data and what it tracks, SkyBuilt couldn’t say too much about the nature of the contract.
“We are not going to comment too much further other than what we’ve said in writing, because it’s kind of a sensitive topic,” Muchow said.
SkyBuilt has been offering remote power solutions since 2003, according to Muchow.
“SkyBuilt has been providing many types of products to the military and the Army for things such as solar wind hybrid systems on trailers,” he said.
Its products have been tested and evaluated at the Army Test Center in Aberdeen, Md., before such systems are allowed to enter the field, he said.
“Our products have gone through up to 300 tests over 6 months” said Muchow.
The need for electricity in remote applications has certainly grown, and traditional fuel sources like diesel or gas are costly, fiscally and in terms of lives.
“One of the problems the military is having in the field is fuel supply lines,” Muchow said. “For every 24 fuel convoys, one soldier dies or is injured. And if you can reduce fuel use by 1 percent in the field, you can save 6,000 convoys.”
And depending on where the fuel is needed, a gallon of fuel can cost up to $400.
Image courtesy of SkyBuilt.