Photographer: Akos Stiller/Bloomberg

NATO's Solar War Games: Planning For a Hot Conflict

Defense companies are joining NATO to test the military’s ability to use renewable power in combat and humanitarian operations. About 1,000 NATO troops are spending 12 days deploying wind turbines, solar panels and self-contained power grids in Hungary. The soldiers are testing small solar power plants that open within 10 minutes, like flowers to the sun, alongside highly insulated tents and solar-powered battery chargers. The technologies displace explosive, conventional fuels that must be delivered along vulnerable supply lines. The testing follows the wounding or killing of 3,000 U.S. soldiers in attacks on fuel and water convoys in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to NATO.

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    The Cold War’s tidy us-versus-them face-off has been replaced by a web of commercial and cooperative ties among Russia, the U.S. and European nations. Russia provides almost a third of the European Union’s natural gas needs and is Europe’s third-largest trading partner.

     

    Those ties have contributed to doubts about NATO’s willingness to fight for its newest members. Majorities of the public in Germany, France and Italy oppose defending NATO allies on Russia’s periphery if they come under attack.

    Photographer: Akos Stiller/Bloomberg
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    The number of companies looking at the market has grown from a "handful" three years ago, according to NATO's officer for smart energy, Susanne Michaelis. Large military customers offer power producers a market that is more resilient to the ups and downs of the global economy than private industry.

    Photographer: Akos Stiller/Bloomberg
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    NATO soldiers are conducting war-game scenarios that simulate power cuts, flooded roads and diesel and water contamination using airdrops of "smart energy" equipment in Varpalota, Hungary.

    Photographer: Akos Stiller/Bloomberg
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    Smartflower Energy Technology are showcasing its instant solar-power plants, carbon-fiber units with petal-shaped panels that can be operated by a single person and open to the morning sun.

    Photographer: Akos Stiller/Bloomberg
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    Technicians preview a Roll-Deployed PV Array (ROLLARRAY) transportable solar panel system.

    Photographer: Akos Stiller/Bloomberg
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    The cells of a transportable solar panel during a demonstration.

    Photographer: Akos Stiller/Bloomberg
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    Soldiers and personnel walk across a Roll-Deployed PV Array (ROLLARRAY) transportable solar panel system, manufactured by Renovagen, during a demonstration of Smart Energy solutions.

    Photographer: Akos Stiller/Bloomberg
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    A Renewable Mobile Ultra Light Energy System (REMULES), manufactured by Smartflower Energy Technology.

    Photographer: Akos Stiller/Bloomberg
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    A soldier demonstrates the use of transportable solar panels during a demonstration of Smart Energy solutions at NATO's Capable Logistician field training exercise.

    Photographer: Akos Stiller/Bloomberg
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    Military personnel, tanks and armored vehicles take part in field exercises.  

    Photographer: Akos Stiller/Bloomberg
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    A Hummer manouvers during a mock battlefield operation during the NATO Capable Logistician (CL15) field training exercise.

    Photographer: Akos Stiller/Bloomberg
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    Along with deploying solar, wind and biomass for power generation at permanent bases, the U.S. is using smaller-scale renewables like solar-powered battery chargers to cut weight and enhance the mobility of its troops.

    Photographer: Akos Stiller/Bloomberg