Military interest in energy storage remains strong


The US Army is interested in using energy storage to improve tactical capabilities on the battlefield. Pic: Trish Harris.

By Jason Deign

Military enthusiasm for energy storage applications is at an all-time high, according to one supplier close to the industry.

“There’s no doubt that their interest is strong,” said Ryan O’Keefe, senior vice president of business development at the power conversion systems maker Ideal Power.

Energy storage is seen as one of a number of technologies that can help military chiefs offset costs and risks while allowing troops to operate more independently in the battlefield, he said.

“They identified quite some time ago that their military bases, wherever they are, are at the mercy of the electric grid. The military is clearly in planning mode for how to make their operations resilient.”

Ideal Power is currently working with “a couple” of military suppliers on how to improve frontline logistics and power quality.
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Nanotech T-shirt offers storage to wear

In the future, energy storage could be as important as style when shopping for clothes.

In the future, energy storage could be as important as style when shopping for clothes. Photo credit: Oxfordian World

What’s the best place to store electricity? Many solutions are being suggested, from household fuel cell energy storage units to your electric vehicle’s lithium-ion battery. But a fascinating article in Nanowerk explores the idea that we’ll one day be powering our wearable electronics with electricity generated and stored in the clothes on our back.
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Remote sensing opportunity for energy storage

We’ve noted before that the opportunities for energy storage are highly varied, from mitigating against the variability of renewable energy sources to emergency power provision and peak demand management for grids. Now Pike Research has highlighted another: the burgeoning remote-sensing market.

A new report states that remote sensing, including light detection and ranging and supervisory control and data acquisition systems for the oil and gas industry, as well as remote monitoring using telemetry for environmental applications, are on the increase. Pike forecasts that between 27,000 and 40,000 remote-sensing systems based on renewable and alternative energy will be shipped annually by 2020, all of which would need some form of energy storage.

Fuel cells power new lighting tower

Building sites and other off-grid locations can now stay illuminated thanks to a hydrogen fuel cell lighting tower jointly launched by Youngman Group and TCP in the UK, reports International Rental News. The Ecolite-H2 is powered by a BOC Hymera fuel cell, fed by a gas cylinder, which would keep the unit operational for up to 60 hours.

Military energy storage applications for all occasions

As we pointed out last year, there is military interest in using electric vehicles to store emergency power, and barely two weeks ago Tina Casey reported that the US military was planning to lease 500 electric vehicles for six sites in a deal worth USD$20 million. Writing for Cleantechnica, Casey notes that the boys in khaki have electric vehicle-to-grid energy storage in mind, as well as mobility.

Energy storage has already seen action in the field, Pike Research notes; a small number of hybrid solar PV-battery-diesel generator systems have proven so valuable that two small patrols in Afghanistan have been operating completely on renewable energy. Another small base has reduced fuel use by 90%. So far, more than 400 portable Solar Portable Alternative Communication Energy Systems have been deployed in Afghanistan.

There is battery-powered LED lighting and of course more portable cells for use in radios, night vision units and other devices. In fact, the armed forces are showing such a willingness to adopt energy storage that companies explicitly label their products as designed for military use.

Portable fuel cells – mobility, at a price

One area that is minor in terms of market share for fuel cells (in comparison with stationary and mobile applications) is portable. But in absolute terms, the portable sector is very healthy – and creating a lot of column inches. Take the recent splash Lilliputian Systems has made with its Nectar Mobile Power system, for example.

The Nectar is a little pricey for most, but when it comes to the military, cost is less of an obstacle. We have seen reports of many different applications for the armed forces in different countries and it seems that energy independence on the move is what attracts the military to fuel cells.

Fuel cells power up German Army

The combination of a JENNY fuel cell, SFC Power Manager, specially tailored hybrid battery and a solar panel will be keeping the German Bundeswehr’s radios, navigational equipment, night-vision equipment, laser range-finders, portable computers and PDAs energised, reports Fuel Cell Today.

The equipment has been supplied by SFC Energy AG, at a cost of around €5 million, and its chief advantage is weight. In a 72-hour-mission the SFC power solution reduces the load of a soldier by up to 80% compared to conventional solutions, says the article. In addition, the power supply and energy management are fully automatic, practically silent, emission-free and almost undetectable.