Reliable tactical electrical power (TEP) is a mission-critical concept for our military. TEP helps maintain troop safety and comfort and allows mission objectives to be achieved, which is evident in its use for:
Tactical operations centers
Forward operating bases
Missile defense operations
Electrical tactical vehicles
However, apart from the necessity of mobile energy, how this energy is supplied is one of the greatest challenges from a logistical and security standpoint. Currently, the vast majority of energy created in tactical situations is from generators, such as 2kW Military Tactical Generator (MTG), 3kW Tactical Quiet Generator (TQG), and Advanced Medium Mobile Power Sources (AMMPS), which can be 5, 10, 15, 30 and 60kW. The fuel source for these generators is overwhelmingly fossil fuels such as diesel and JP-8.
The necessity of this fuel and the supply chain needed to provide it creates significant risk for our military and local allies. This can be observed from a report from the Army Environmental Policy Institute, which assessed that in 2007 there were 5,133 fuel supply convoys required in Iraq and 897 in Afghanistan. From those convoys, U.S. forces suffered one casualty for every 39 fuel resupply convoys in Iraq and one for every 24 convoys in Afghanistan.
For the Department of Defense, part of their current modernization drive in terms of energy involves extending unit energy self-sufficiency, improving TEP reliability and resilience in the context of microgrids, and seeking ways to alleviate the logistical challenges of fuel delivery. For all of these, tactical mobile battery storage will play a key role.
Benefits of Tactical Mobile Battery Storage
Tactical mobile battery storage is a means for energy to be stored either as a backup to generator supply or to maintain supply from renewable sources while they’re not producing energy. A tactical mobile battery storage system combines control systems (such as switchgear) and a battery management system to pick up load in real-time if other generators or other energy sources cannot meet it.
Tactical mobile battery storage provides a range of benefits for military applications, including:
Greater Speed & Reliability
Tactical mobile battery storage systems allow for a seamless transition between a variety of power sources. It also enables greater utilization of photovoltaic solar, or wind energy sources, which to date have been too irregular to plan generator-less microgrids around. In addition, this integrated power supply system can lower the negative impacts of sudden load changes by reducing the frequency and magnitude of voltage disturbances ensuring the continuous powering of critical loads.
Additionally, speed is critical to recharging during combat operations, and this is another area where tactical mobile battery storage systems shine. It is estimated it would take more than seven hours to recharge a brigade combat team with a 29-megawatt power source which is unacceptable during offensive operations.
All TEP systems, including tactical mobile battery storage systems, are designed for outdoor use, so related control panels will be durable under various environmental conditions. TEP systems also deploy enhanced safety systems, such as master service disconnect switches, remote operation capability, and high voltage interlock loop (HVIL) connectors to improve operator safety. Additionally, tactical mobile battery storage systems (and TEP systems in general) are designed to protect components and troops from charge overload.
Broadening Energy Supply
As mentioned, there is a strategic requirement to reduce dependence on JP-8 and other fossil fuels in the field, and one of the most viable alternatives is renewable energy. In Afghanistan, in 2010, an experimental deployment at Marine forward operating bases of solar-powered generation systems reduced the need for diesel generators by 90%. In addition, tactical mobile battery storage further improves the viability of harnessing renewable energy resources to power military microgrids.
Improving Fuel Efficiency
Fuel transport requirements can also be reduced by optimizing the efficiency of current generator use. Advanced medium mobile power sources (AMMPS) are designed to be over 20% more fuel efficient than previous generations of generators. Tactical mobile battery storage can help achieve fuel efficiency savings by running more hours at higher, more efficient generator loads. This eliminates running long periods at low, inefficient generator loads.
Strengthening Microgrid Resilience
The resilience of an electrical grid is how capable it is of coping with disruptive events and how long it takes to recover from them. In a domestic grid, this could include component failure, line faults, or extreme environmental events. For a military microgrid context, one can add direct adversary attack and maintenance constrictions. Third-generation generators are intended to have better maintenance schedules to prolong component life above the current situation, but military microgrids are still at high risk of disruptive events. Tactical mobile battery storage improves resilience by adding an extra reserve of power to help absorb disruptive events, reducing blackouts and helping the microgrid recover.
Tactical mobile battery storage systems are essential to the military’s future TEP preparations. According to the Army Climate Strategy, the Army's goal is to achieve an interim requirement of producing a full fleet of hybrid-drive tactical vehicles by 2035 and fully electric tactical vehicles by 2050, with a means to recharge them in the field.
By creating a large reserve of fallback energy, the microgrids deployed at tactical operations centers and forward operating bases become more reliable and resilient. Tactical mobile battery storage also enables the broader use of renewable energy sources, reducing the logistical risks surrounding fuel delivery, saving lives and reducing costs.
Enercon Engineering is proud to have assisted the U.S. military and allies in creating safe, effective, and efficient microgrids in both tactical and domestic settings, including on the THAAD missile system. Contact us today to learn more about our tactical power capabilities.