Tuesday, October 5, 2010

To save lives, military turns to renewable energy

The New York Times had a great story today about how the military is going green because it's safer for the troops. Perhaps it's a parable for the whole planet. Around the world, workers are dying on oil rigs and in refinery explosions, not to mention the wars that start over oil fields.

Today the Times reports that truck convoys hauling fuel to bases in Iraq and Afghanistan have been sitting ducks for the enemy. One person is killed for every 24 fuel convoys that set out. And so,
With insurgents increasingly attacking the American fuel supply convoys that lumber across the Khyber Pass into Afghanistan, the military is pushing aggressively to develop, test and deploy renewable energy to decrease its need to transport fossil fuels.

The military's appetite for equipment that runs on renewable energy brings with it a bright promise. Combined, the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines have the buying paper to create products and markets.

Some cool things the military is doing include:
  • A Marine company from California brought to Helmand Province portable solar panels that fold into boxes; energy-saving lights; solar tent shields that provide shade and electricity; solar chargers for computers.
  • The Navy introduced its first hybrid vessel, an amphibious assault ship called the U.S.S. Makin Island. It runs on electricity under 10 knots runs on electricity instead of fossil fuel
  • The Air Force has flown test flights using a mix of plant-based biofuel and jet fuel.
Teamster General President Jim Hoffa has argued for years that we need to get America running on clean energy. The Teamsters are pushing for green jobs that pay workers decent wages and benefits.

Good to know the military is helping to pioneer our transformation into an economy based on renewable energy.