US Navy Goes Big With ‘GREENS’ Solar

For the U.S. armed forces, going green is about climate change and energy security, but as much as anything it’s about troop safety. Transporting fuel is often a dangerous activity in hostile territory, and in an effort to reduce the amount of fuels that must be transported to Marines in the field – as well as the carbon footprint of its operations – the Navy has entered the full production phase of its portable, 300-watt, solar hybrid battery generator.

Coined the Ground Renewable Expeditionary ENergy System (GREENS), the system consists of stackable 1,600-watt solar arrays and rechargeable batteries that combine to provide continuous power for Marines in remote locations. GREENS can be rapidly deployed and is Humvee transportable. Oh, and a fun fact: GREENS comes equipped with a toolkit that allows Marines to enter their expected mission profile and determine which components of the system they will need to take with them.

GREENS, portable solar power system

image via U.S. Navy

“This item significantly reduces the amount of fuel that has to be delivered, minimizing the number of warfighters on the roads, convoys and hazards, as well as the logistics expenses associated with distributing fuel,” said Cliff Anderson, logistics program officer in ONR’s Expeditionary Maneuver Warfare & Combating Terrorism Department, in a statement. “That was really the objective: to get warfighters out of harm’s way and reduce the cost of transporting fuel.”

GREENS was developed by the Office of Naval Research, then rapidly transitioned to the Marine Corps Systems Command and into production, in support of the goal outlined by Section 2911 of Title 10 of the United States Code: “It shall be the goal of the Department of Defense … to produce or procure not less than 25 percent of the total quantity of facility energy it consumes within its facilities during fiscal year 2025 and each fiscal year thereafter from renewable energy sources.”

Maj Sean Sadlier, a logistics analyst with the Marine Corps Expeditionary Energy Office, who trained users on and tested GREENS in the field with India Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, said, “GREENS is modular, portable, rugged and intuitive enough to deploy in a combat environment. Units trained on GREENS as part of pre-deployment training have provided positive feedback.” So far, several small Marine Corps outposts have successfully used GREENS as their sole energy source.

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.