Users' conference to showcase transformation in defense power generation
A demonstration of a hybrid generator prototype that combines solar, wind, and a fuel cell battery with a fuel-run generator at the Project Manager Mobile Electric Power (PM MEP) Users' Conference 5 May 2010 in Orlando, Fla. The image was electronically altered. Portions of image blurred

With dramatic changes on the horizon for the way tactical electric power is delivered to the battlefield, Project Manager Mobile Electric Power will use an upcoming conference to keep the military community connected and informed.

Registration for the "Power User Conference 2011" began Nov. 17, and it will take place April 11-15, 2011 at the Shades of Green Resort, Armed Forces Recreation Facility in Orlando, Fla. The agenda for the fourth annual event includes presentations on current programs in production, future programs in development, and "lessons learned" from deployed power users. The conference will also include displays of equipment and system prototypes.

During the conference, several breakout sessions will address Service-unique issues and a variety of tactical electric power (TEP) topics, products and users. Personnel representing the Combat Developer, Materiel Developer, Sustainment Commands and HQ offices from each Service will attend to address TEP issues including requirements generation, production, fielding and sustainment of hardware, and "boots on the ground" experiences.

"It's a one-stop shop," said Paul Richard, deputy project manager for PM MEP. "We try to get a two-way dialogue going, because from the Warfighter we want to find out, 'What needs of yours are we not meeting'' Or, 'What things can we do with our operational equipment that will reduce your footprint on the battlefield and help you achieve mission success''"

The discussions are relevant to users from all branches of the military, said Eric Scott, a member of the Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC Crane) Energy, Power & Interconnect Technologies Division who attended the 2010 conference.

"This is a window into what everyone else is doing," Scott said. "Having one place to go where you can hear presentations about not only problems in the field, but also solutions that people are tinkering with or trying out, is really valuable. It's certainly better to be able to get the information firsthand."

Consuming less fuel on the battlefield will decrease the risk to supply convoys transporting fuel to remote areas, Richard said. The next generation of Department of Defense standard generators, known as the Advanced Medium Mobile Power Sources (AMMPS) family, are 21 percent more fuel-efficient than the systems currently in production.

The Milestone C decision for AMMPS is currently scheduled for March 2011, and fielding could begin later that same year, Richard said. When fully fielded, the fleet is expected to save the Army more than 50 million gallons of fuel a year.

Even more fuel savings will be possible through the next phase: a shift to microgrids. PM MEP has already made strides to move the Army away from a stovepiped approach - where "anything that needs power gets its own generator" - to "power islands," which use fewer larger generators coupled with power distribution equipment to feed the same loads, Richard said.

"A microgrid approach is looking at taking those larger generators and actually linking them together so you make a common grid that services all the loads that are within its operating range," he said. "You couple that with an intelligent system that can autonomously start and shut off generators as they're needed to meet power demand."

Other future power generation systems that will be showcased at the conference include fuel cell technology and hybrids of standard Tactical Quiet Generators and solar powered systems, ranging in size from 3-5 kW to 30-60 kW.

Mark Meeter, who works for the Navy Expeditionary Medical Support Command, said the 2010 conference provided both broad perspective on the future of TEP and hands-on practical information. For the expeditionary community, he said, the breakout sessions can help users identify and solve common issues.

"There's so much that they can gain in that aspect," Meeter said. "We're in a huge transition phase right now."

PM MEP will also use the conference to recognize outstanding power professionals from all Services. For information on award nominations, as well as the conference agenda and how to register, visit the PM MEP website at https://www.pm-mep.army.mil/index.htm

Page last updated Wed December 15th, 2010 at 12:06