Oil prices driving U.S. military to alternative energy sources
Published: Saturday, February 24, 2007
In the next few months, U.S. troops at an outpost somewhere in Iraq will unpack a mini power station capable of producing electricity from both solar and wind sources.
It's hoped that the station, with its wind turbines and huge solar panels, will provide enough electricity for soldiers to cut back their reliance on the base's huge diesel-powered generators that operate around the clock.
In laboratories in the U.S., defence researchers are examining alternatives to fossil fuels with the hope of one day using hydrogen or electrical sources to power army vehicles.
In December, the U.S. air force conducted a successful flight test involving a B-52 bomber using a synthetic fuel made from natural gas. For its part, the U.S. navy has redesigned some of the propulsion systems on-board its vessels to improve fuel efficiency and is looking at making changes to ship propellers to get additional savings.
It's all part of a major effort by the Pentagon, the single largest buyer of oil in the world, to kick its fossil fuel habit.
But the push has little to do with saving the environment. At the heart of the program is national security and the growing concern among generals and lawmakers that the American military machine is too reliant on petroleum-based fuels from unstable regions.story continued