Army looks to tap renewables to supply power to jawans deployed at high altitudes
NEW DELHI: The Army is looking for durable power supply in high altitudes to enhance the living conditions of its personnel.
The plan is to have renewable energy in place of fossil fuels that are unreliable and face transportation and maintenance hassles. The project has been placed under the Technology Development Fund scheme and the Army is discussing the project with the industry and subject experts.
The scheme envisages funding the industry that can develop technologies or prototypes for potential use with the help of scientists. The first option is fuel cell, which would convert chemical energy from a fuel into electricity through a reaction of hydrogen-containing fuel with oxygen or another oxidising agent. To start with, the power to be generated would be pegged at around 5 KW.
Solar and wind energy, in abundance at high altitudes, are also under consideration. According to a study report, Ladakh is a region where such renewable energy can be easily harnessed. The region is not connected to the national grid. There are hydel power projects here but freezing of water in winter sees considerable fall in production.
Solar power projects are few in number and are unable to meet the peak power demand for 21 military stations in winter. “There is a requirement to integrate all renewable energy sources to create a micro grid, to balance the requirement of military stations. The hybrid sources which need to be integrated are solar, wind, geothermal and micro hydel power stations,” the study report said.
“These sources of energy are not susceptible to mechanical breakdown. There are also no transportation issues. Some of these technologies are more durable to withstand vagaries of nature. As they are quiet, they will also not give away your location to the adversary,” an officer said. Jawans deployed at altitudes as high as 22,000 feet in the northern and eastern sectors have to deal with sub-zero conditions almost throughout the year.
Uninterrupted electricity supply, hence, becomes essential for cooking, heating, boiling water and recharging batteries of communication and surveillance devices. Due to the absence of regular electric, generators are used at present. Apart from the huge amounts of fuel consumption, transporting diesel and kerosene is a logistic challenge and costly proposition. Fuel is often carried by soldiers and mules. Oil pipelines are susceptible to breakages due to landslides and avalanches. Stoves and generators often break down during winters and sending a generator for repairs is a transportation nightmare.