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Defence installs solar panels in Lokandu camp (DR Congo)

Based on a text by Jean-François Dubois
22 March 2018
The energy changes that the future will bring obviously also concern national Defence. Using renewable sources builds is part of the work of its operative staff in charge of the environment, while combining ecology, economy and operationality. A pilot project on power supply, implemented in 2016 for the Engineer detachment in the Democratic Republic of Congo, illustrates these efforts.

 

This photovoltaic installation, comprising 48 photovoltaic panels, a battery pack, an inverter, an electronic management unit and a laptop ensures the energetic independence of the Lokandu camp. This solar island feeds the housing occupied by our seven representatives of construction engineering, responsible for coaching their Congolese counterparts, as well as a water purification plant.

The advantages of this system are varied and it has proven its effectiveness. The daily use of 70l of fuel oil and the running costs spread over the entire period of occupancy represent an average monthly budget of 4000€. The station represents an investment of 38,673€, paid back after 10 to 11 months (taking into account the fluctuations in the price of the barrel) and does not require any further maintenance operations or costs.

According to Warrant Officer Laureys, the benefits at the environmental level are : reduced dependence on fossil fuels, reduced ecological footprint, no operational waste, zero greenhouse gas emissions and no risk of soil and water pollution. Noise pollution also disappears, improving the quality of life of the local population and respects local fauna. The lack of noise also brings a tactical “plus”.

There are also security benefits since this energy change eliminates the risk of explosions, transport risks (accidents and convoy attacks) and strengthens the military forces in charge of supply (logistics engineers and Force Protection)

The transport and installation can be carried out by military personnel and assets. Only four people in about ten days are capable to finalise the installation. This allows for rapid and cost-efficient redeployment to another theatre of operations.

These actions reducing the ecological footprint frames within the environmental protection actions undertaken by the National Defence.

Negotiations are currently taking place in order to increase photovoltaic power generation assets in the form of "Solar Production Kits", similar to the one used in the Lokandu camp. They could be interconnected in order to obtain a more important production for energy-consumptive camps.

Renewable energy Defence