Alternative Energy Uses In The Military
Most governments and corporations are looking at alternative energy strategies to produce power without the use of fossil fuels, all trying to curb their emissions of CO2. But, you’d be surprised that most militaries are also using alternative energy strategies, and it makes sense because a military moves on its fuel and food for its personnel. Anyone that studies military history knows just how critical this is. Not long ago, a technologist interviewed me and asked about alternative energy exploits for war planners. Let’s talk.
Daniel asks: “Will we see the use of alternative energies in the military industry?”
Yes, of course. A couple of reasons;
(1) The push for Climate Change is sending lots of research dollars into alternative energy, and the militaries of the world need energy, it takes a lot of energy to run a Navy, Army, or Air Force. Hint: Nuclear Powered Aircraft Carriers and Submarines. As these alternative energy innovations come into fruition and can compete with fossil fuels on cost, we will see much more of them, and;
(2) Consider that. like the radar signature on a stealth aircraft, having a smoke stack smoking up a storm on a large ship — like the Russian Aircraft Carrier Admiral Kuznetsov (old smokey – quite embarrassing) — it gives up its position pretty quickly.
Right now, we must realize that oil prices are low and fossil fuels have a lot of energy packed into those little molecules, and that’s hard to beat for powerful afterburners. If oil prices go back up, that will be reason number 3.
As far as biofuels go, we are a ways off, and the cost is way too high to justify, but who knows in the future, maybe some brilliant genius will take home a Nobel Prize for figuring it out, that would be a game-changer. When it comes to solar, well, the prices have really come down and the efficiency has really gone up. That along with battery performance — improving duration, lowering weight, faster re-charging, and lower overall costs due to scaled up production — we can be assured more use of solar power in militaries across the planet, but only when it makes sense and if it works – remember when it comes to the military it’s all about operational readiness, and a foot soldier who has dead batteries, could end up dead.
Hydrogen Fueled military equipment makes a lot of sense, and yes there are technological challenges there too, but those will get worked out in private industry because there are so many potential applications from transportation to home use and beyond.
Still, at the end of the day militaries need what works, and they need it now, if they want to win, political correctness seems quite trivial when you are fighting a war with life and death in the balance, so reality takes front seat. If alternative energies can do it cheaper, more efficient and require less logistics for a moving army, you can bet they will be part of the mix of technologies, count on it.