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Military Photovoltaic Applications

Industrialized countries have been utilizing solar electricity for mobile/portable power since 1984

· $3.6 million capabilities contract from the Naval Air Warfare Center to build the world's largest off-grid solar electric system. Photocomm was on-schedule with the Navy's timeline to build the large PV-hybrid generating plant, with back-up diesel power. The 290 kWp photovoltaic contribution is larger than any comparable installation worldwide.

The U.S Coast guard continues purchasing PV modules (since 1987). Modules must meet the physical, electrical and environmental characteristics set forth in the U.S. Coast Guard's Specification No. 401, including the severe Pressure Immersion Temperature (PIT) cycling test developed by the Coast Guard to simulate unique environmental conditions present in the offshore marine environment).

EXAMPLE: As early as 1985, solar specialists manufactured trailer-mounted photovoltaic generators for the U.S. Navy used to power communication equipment at various remote military sites. Delivered to China Lake Naval Weapons Center (NWC) in California. A cost effective alternative to diesel generator sets, the annual maintenance cost of each mobile PV generator is $600 per year, compared to fuel and maintenance costs of more than $15,000 for a remote diesel generator. Each of the NWC's trailer-mounted systems includes a PV array, battery bank, power inverter, controls, meters and cable. The complete system can be deployed by two men in less than two hours and withstands 120 miles per hour wind loading.

The U.S. Army's MANPAC line of mobile mobile equipment has spurred PV manufacturers and distributors to create specially matched PV components and control packages.

U.S. Department of Defence, in conjunction with aerospace project, has utilized photovoltaic power since the earliest satellite missions. High efficiency gallium arsenide cells have been widely used in this category.
©S.K.Lowe 1996-2000

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