July 26, 2012

Solar generator to make Wing debut at next WTI

Cpl. Aaron Diamant
Desert Warrior Staff

As part of the Corps’ push toward the expanded use of renewable energy, a solar generator system known as Greens will mark its first use with a non-ground-based unit in the upcoming fall Weapons and Tactics Instructor course.

“This is all program of record equipment like any other generator,” said Maj. Anthony McNair, requirements and technology team officer in charge from the Marine Corps Expeditionary Energy Office. “This equipment in already in use in Afghanistan. This is the first time we’ve been able to use it in anything other than a ground units.”

The system is designed to generate 300 watts of power for up to 24 hours. The Greens system already sees use in some of the small, remote forward operating bases in Afghanistan, where it is used to power the combat operations centers.

When set up for use, the entire system is approximately the size of two diesel generators currently in use throughout the Corps, but is much easier to transport since it break down into several smaller pieces. Two Marines can put the system together in roughly 20 minutes.

“This system is used to power critical systems in combat environments,” said David Huff, a renewable energy field service representative. “It’s designed to maximize the use of renewable energy.”

The system is not designed to completely replace the diesel powered generators the Corps currently uses. However, the system can be used as a sole power plant for smaller COCs or as a backup in case a diesel generator fails.

It can also be used to supplement existing diesel generators in a hybrid configuration. Much like in the hybrid power systems found in cars, the system would reduce fuel consumption by drawing power from diesel generators only when needed.

“All of this technology is available right now,” said McNair, “and it’s not so complex that it can’t be upgraded as newer battery and solar technologies emerge.”

“This is just the first generation of this technology,” added Mike Bissonnette, renewable energy team lead. “The system will get more and more capable in the future as we work to be able to link more of these solar systems together.”

The team will return to work with the system during WTI, to educate more Marines on Greens as it continues to reduce the Corps’ dependence on fossil fuels.

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