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U.S. Military Is Saving Lives By Allying With Clean Energy Developers

The New Energy Economy is boasting an old ally — the U.S. military, which is increasingly employing renewable energies and high technologies. With the U.S. armed forces moving in, the question then becomes how such a market place will unfold and who will be the major players in it.

The U.S. Department of Defense is modernizing its military bases both domestically and around the world because it is saving lives, and money. Because it must remain on its toes, the military is continually moving generators and fossil fuels — resources that can run low and endanger the well-being of existing operations. By carrying sustainable sources of power with them, soldiers are reducing their risks while also cutting their emissions.

A German national flag flies beside an installation of transportable solar panels at the entrance to a Capable Logistician (CL15) field training exercise by the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) using Smart Energy solutions in Varpalota, Hungary, on Thursday, June 18, 2015. Defense companies including Thales SA and Multicon Solar AG will join NATO to test the military’s ability to use renewable power in combat and humanitarian operations. Photographer: Akos Stiller/Bloomberg

“When we think about power, we can’t have a short power interruption or a cyber hack,” says Mark Russell, vice president for technology at defense contractor Raytheon RTN -1.96% Co., in an interview. “We need to be able to operate off the grid.”

How so? Instead of generators and lots of fossil fuels, the Defense Department is relying increasingly on things like solar panels, battery storage and microgrids that deliver the power to enclosed campuses. Raytheon engineers the concepts and writes the software that “glues it all together.”

Consider the Marine Corps Air Station near San Diego that is using a microgrid that was developed in part with Raytheon technology, in conjunction with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory: Solar panels are creating the electricity, which is being harnessed by a battery storage system built by Primus Power. The end result, says Russell, is a reliable, continuous flow of power.

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