Move over Army Cross… the Windmill Commendation Medal is on its way for clean energy heroism above and beyond the call of duty. What are we talking about? We’ll let ClimateWire explain:
A much-touted military complex slated to become the main hub for future Afghan security forces is also being looked to as a key proving ground for renewable energy.
But two years into its construction, alternative energy plans are running up against the harsh realities of building in a remote setting in a war-torn nation.
Earlier plans for the 105-acre base included a 1-megawatt wind turbine, waste-to-energy technology and a fleet of ground-based photovoltaic panels.
Last month, however, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers sent two experts to survey the future site of the base just outside of Kabul — which will house more than a half-dozen military training facilities, including the Afghanistan equivalent of West Point — and they discovered it is time to rethink those plans.
One finding: The 1 MW wind turbine featured in draft blueprints cannot become a reality.
“The roads won’t support it. You can’t get a crane large enough out there to support it,” said Frank Holcomb, a senior energy official at the U.S. Army’s Construction Engineering Research Laboratory. To build and maintain a wind turbine that size, construction workers would need to employ a 300-ton crane and bring in hefty trucks to carry in pieces that are about 35 meters long each, he explained.
Meanwhile, the largest crane in the country weighs less than half of that, he said. To keep the turbine running, the massive crane would also need to stay in the country for repairs.
So the Army Corps is working to refocus draft plans to include fewer than two dozen smaller 10-kilowatt wind turbines — though they will not equal the power of the 1 MW wind turbine. Building about 100 10-kilowatt wind turbines to create equivalent power appears to be out of the question due to the difficulty and expense of constructing a large wind farm across such a rugged site…
So the plan for defeating the Taliban is, apparently, to have it laugh itself to death.