Report: Can deployable wind turbines decrease reliance on liquid fuels during military and disaster response?

March 9, 2020 2:36 pm Published by

Sandia National Laboratories, Idaho National Laboratory and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory recently published a report assessing the opportunity for deployable wind energy systems to meet the energy needs of defense and disaster response activities. The report is the first public deliverable from the Defense and Disaster Deployable Turbine (DT3) project, funded through the distributed wind portfolio of the U.S. Department of Energy Wind Energy Technologies Office.

“This [project] is a totally different design approach for wind energy technology. For most commercial wind systems, you look for locations with a good wind resource, study that for a year, and find or design a wind turbine that can convert that wind resource to electricity at the lowest cost,” said Sandia Principal Investigator Brian Naughton. “In the defense and disaster response applications, you are going to where the need is, not necessarily to where there is good wind resource. Also, instead of installing a turbine and operating it for 20 or more years, you might be setting up and taking down the deployable turbine within a few weeks or a few months. That requires a very different approach to the design, and it’s why most commercial turbines have not been successful when deployed for military use. This project aims to overcome those design limitations.”

Notable report findings include:

  • The identification of two primary markets: The first market is for a small system that is packable for a single person or small team in the single kilowatt power range primarily to recharge batteries for electronic devices. The second market is larger, in the tens of kilowatts, that is transported using standard containers and can integrate into the power system of a base or command post.
  • The U.S. military frequently provides power systems to both domestic and international disaster response efforts, therefore developing a system for the military will also meet the needs of disaster response applications.
  • A preliminary look at the available commercial wind turbine systems and gaps that may exist for those systems to meet the unique needs of the identified markets.
  • There are implications of the strategic shift of the United States to defend against what is called “near-peer adversaries,” or more technically capable opponents in a very large logistically challenging environment, especially in the Pacific region. The result is a U.S. force that is more dispersed, in smaller bases that are more resilient. This may drive new capabilities from a deployable wind system versus what has been the case in recent conflicts in the Middle East.

Future project efforts will involve wind industry and military stakeholders to understand the challenges and opportunities for deployable wind technologies. For instance, DOE WETO recently awarded Bergey Windpower Company to develop a deployable wind concept, and Sandia National Laboratories will be coordinating closely to benefit both projects.

“As the team works to develop and design guidelines for an optimal deployable wind system, feedback from the stakeholders will be a critical input,” Naughton said. “Beyond that, the hope is that additional funding opportunities will facilitate work directly with companies to design and build prototypes, and for DOD agencies to test those systems in representative environments, working toward a system that could be used in future deployments.”

For more information, read the report or view DOE’s Fact Sheet. For more regarding recent industry awards, read about Bergey Windpower Company funding.