MANHASSET, N.Y. --The Pentagon wants to improve its energy security by using microgrid technologies.
The U.S. military's heavy reliance on fossil fuels, often imported from regions hostile to American security interests, is forcing the issue. Microgrids enable military bases to sustain operations, regardless of what is happening on the larger utility grid or in a war zone.
Pike Research forecasts that, in an typical war-time scenario, the total capacity of U.S. military microgrids will reach 54.8 megawatts by 2018.
Microgrids use networked generators as an integrated system to maximize energy efficiency. They also can be used to help integrate renewable energy resources at the local distribution grid level.
According to DOD, over 40 military bases either have operating microgrids or are planning and demonstrating microgrid technologies.
The U.S. military has 600 forward operating bases, and is investigating the deployment of even smaller mobile, tactical microgrids in Afghanistan and other war zones.
Pike Research examined the growth of DoD microgrids in three sectors: military bases, forward operating bases and mobile systems.
Among microgrid-enabling technologies are smart inverters, switches and meters along with electric vehicle charging technologies. Virtual power plants and cyber security technologies are also discussed in the report.
The military has to be able to setup self sufficient power systems for bases in hostile locations. Innovative power generating systems can reduce the need for fossil fuels which become staggeringly expensive when delivered to the front line. With luck, the lessons learned will be translated into civilian solutions for locations (such as Connecticut) that lose power on a regular basis.
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.