Thursday, October 07, 2010

The military, sustainable energy,...

...and economies of scale

A hopeful Slate article on how the military's drive to adopt alternative energy sources could provide the necessary economies of scale to make such technologies widely affordable on the civilian market--as was the case with microprocessors and data processing computers this last century.

The military has looked at alternatives to fossil fuels before, but both cost and the fragility of the devices precluded adopting any of these technologies. However, the decreased price as well as increased reliability and efficiency of devices such as solar recharges in recent years has made the wide-spread deployment of alternative power sources a very real possibility.

And a much desired one.

The petroleum needed to power vehicles and combat platforms of all stripes has an enormous dollar cost. The above article cites the current money price of moving gasoline to the remote areas of Afghanistan at $400 per gallon (roughly $1600 per liter). Then there is the enormous logistical footprint of tanker ships and trucks required to move fuel. Any technology that can generate power on site has the potential to shrink the logistics network, and having fewer transport vehicles is a key component of making units agiler and easy to maneuver, both on land and at sea.

So here's hoping that these technologies work in the field as well as help to speed the widespread adoption of alternative power at home.

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