Conference Paper

Publication Date
Paper Number
IEEE Systems and Information Engineering Design Symposium (SIEDS), Charlottesville, VA, April 2011
Paper Title
The Design of a Portable and Deployable Solar Energy System for Deployed Military Applications


Conference Paper Brief

Global Positioning Systems, thermal imaging
scopes, satellite phones, and other electronic devices are critical
to the warfighter in Forward Operating Environments. Many
are battery operated and require charging. We used a Systems
Engineering approach to compare existing portable energy
systems and to specifically design a portable solar energy
system for use tailored for a deployed military/combat unit.
We considered ease of setup/teardown, power delivered,
weight, and many other factors that contribute to the level
portability required. As deployed units are often in areas with
little or no permanent sources of electricity, powering and/or
charging electronic devices can be a challenge and diesel
generators are the typical solution. Generators require fuel
(approximately 1 gallon/hour for 10KVA) which is extremely
costly in both money and safety of soldiers tasked with
transporting fuel. Understanding the factors that affect
portability and knowing which ones are the most important is
key to determining whether a particular energy generation
system is an asset or liability. Currently, there is no simple
rubric to characterize what portability is and how to compare
two systems. We therefore created a rubric to aid our analysis
of portability. With such a set of measurements and
procedures, designs can be meaningfully compared and once
designed, we used the new metrics to improve our overall
design. Several conceptual designs were drafted and
compared, using the metric, to current diesel generators used
by the U.S. military in both Iraq and Afghanistan. We
identified areas where diesel generators are superior and areas
where the solar energy systems are superior. The remainder of
this paper outlines our process and results.