March 21, 2012
- CleanTechnica - Solar power and wind power
are in store for TARDEC, the Army's state-of-the-art vehicle
research center in Michigan.
TARDEC will be the first Army installation to use a solar
powered microgrid, designed to win energy security for two of
TARDEC's laboratories, which will be able to run off grid in case
of power outages.
The microgrid, set for installation this spring, will include
wind power, fuel cells and other energy sources, as well as a
mobile solar generator and charging station for hybrid electric
Energy security for everyone
The installation moves the Army further along its Net Zero goal of
enabling its facilities to use only as much energy as they can
produce on site. Part of the Army's Net Zero initiative involves
sharing information with the civilian sector, so lessons learned
from operating the microgrid will help enable commercial facilities
and communities to develop locally sourced energy, too.
TARDEC's new microgrid
The microgrid was designed to power TARDEC's (that stands for
Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center, by
the way) two System Integration Laboratories as well as parking lot
lights. The grid's designers anticipate that at least part of the
time, the microgrid will generate excess power that can be used
elsewhere in the sprawling TARDEC complex.
TARDEC and the new energy future
Under the Obama Administration TARDEC has accelerated its work
on fuel efficient
vehicles such as the diesel-electric hybrid vehicle
it showcased at the North American International Auto Show in
That's just a taste of things to come - in 2009 TARDEC broke
ground on a research laboratory in its
sprawling complex, called the Ground Systems Power and Energy
Laboratory. Set to open on April 11, the lab will focus squarely on
alternative energy and energy efficiency with the help of partners
in the private sector and academia.
State-of-the-art vehicle energy research
The new facility actually contains eight individual laboratories
to allow for tests in controlled environmental conditions including
temperature, humidity and wind. One lab is dedicated to advanced
energy storage development, and there are also labs dedicated to
fuel cells and vehicle electrical systems.
Of particular note is the lab dedicated to hybrid electric power
trains. Waste energy from some of the equipment used in the lab can
be captured through regenerative systems and used to power other
Oh, the irony
Against this backdrop of the the Army's full-on
pursuit of energy security and alternative energy, the past few
days have witnessed yet another round of alternative energy bashing
from certain federal legislators, including at least one Tweet that is
more worthy of a middle school tease than an adult conversation
about federal energy policy.
Whatever happened to Support
Tina Casey specializes in military and corporate
sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels,
and water and wastewater issues. She is a regular contributor to
Cleantechnica.com, TriplePundit.com, and
IdeaLab.Talkingpointsmemo.com, and she is currently Deputy Director
of Public Information for the County of Union, New Jersey.