Wind and solar for Iraqi border forts

MNFI:

In an effort to create a greener environment, Coalition forces are proposing to the Iraqis to build a reusable energy system with a combination wind turbine power plant and solar panels to support Iraqi border fort outposts around the country.

This will provide a reliable power source to the watch towers and it would require a minimal logistical chain to support the Iraqi Security Forces.

Multi-National Security Transition Command – Iraq (MNSTC-I) is developing a concept to utilize renewable energy for the future security of Iraq’s border, and using solar energy as a source of power for all the border outposts is a step in the right direction.

The proposed location for the test project is the Shiha Outpost South, recently built by the Government of Iraq and in excellent condition. The site has been previously wired, but it doesn’t have a power source installed. This location is accessible for trucks and can easily be monitored.

The cost associated with completing this project is $220K—including site prep, wiring of the tower, power controlling, inverter and batteries. Solar panels and controllers will be part of the cost component, with the majority of funding being allocated for mobilization, design, profit and fees.

This wind turbine is the most economical option for the Iraqis as a power source because it provides 2,000 watts of energy with average wind above 14 mph, 24 hours a day without a generator or associated logistics.

Solar panels will also be used because the location can provide 6 hours of full sunlight a day. There will be a portable room heater available for the winter months and equipment for cooling of electronics for the summer months. The batteries will provide backup power to the plant for 10 hours with no wind, and longer if power usage is conserved.

Currently, they use car batteries primarily to keep the radios operational. The inspection and maintenance on the wind turbine will occur yearly, with periodic inspections of the batteries, terminal lugs and other electronic devices used to assist in its operation. For optimal performance, the system should be kept in a clean, dry space between 50 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

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This is an application that make sense. While I do not think either option is all that great for solving the US energy problems, in isolated locations like the Iraqi border forts they are actually a better economic alternative. The cost of infrastructure in getting power to the forts or in sending diesel to run generators is I think greater than the cost of putting in the wind and solar and the latter is more protected from enemy attacks.

The LA Times has a story on the research the US military is conducting on wind and solar applications for its remote locations.

The desert base, which houses the Army’s premier training center for troops deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan, has become a testing ground and showcase for green initiatives that officials estimate could save the services millions, trim their heavy environmental "boot-print" and even save lives in the war zones, where fuel convoys are frequent targets.

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I think the military will give us the most honest evaluation of these alternatives and they want be doing it because of some goo-goo theory about the environment despite what the story may suggest.

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