The British Army is testing a sustainable power bank for soldiers operating in remote areas where access to power is limited or non-existent.
Various green expeditionary power solutions are currently being put through their paces by long-range patrol units in Mali on Operation Newcombe.
Army patrols that protect local communities and deter terrorist activity need portable power banks due to the vast areas they cover – up to 1,500km – the poor reliability of static power sources and the need to retain a low profile.
A renewable energy source would mean less fuel carried, less impact on the local community and the environment, and improved capability through reliable low-profile power, without heat or noise emissions.
Some of the power banks used are methanol generators or Lithium-Ion batteries paired with solar panels, which are ideal for supplementing power for a patrol base.
In combination, they can be deployed by two people in under a minute and can power a headquarters, including communications equipment, on a tiny portion of fuel almost indefinitely.
The green power banks have been tested in temperatures up to 50°C.
This long-term sustainable project is part of the Ministry of Defence's green agenda with the Army aiming to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.
In Mali, Captain Alex Rudd, of the Light Dragoons, spoke about the vast benefits of the power banks and said they would make troops "more self-sufficient".
"It provides a lighter and more fuel-efficient power option. As well as lasting longer than more conventional fuels that we have used in the past, it provides a tactical advantage.
"Most importantly, its simple set-up procedure enables troops to quickly get it up and running," he added.
As well as providing British troops on the ground with greater range and efficiency, the Army's Armoured Trials and Development Unit (ATDU) has been investigating how to source power without creating problems for local communities.
The commitment to Mali demonstrates the kind of deployments that will increase in line with Future Soldier, the Army's transformation plan.
Last December, British troops joined MINUSMA (Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali), the 18,000-strong peacekeeping mission established in 2013.
About 250 personnel, mostly from the Light Dragoons and 2nd Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment, are supporting MINUSMA, with the UK's contribution named Operation Newcombe.
Cover image: Soldiers in Mali trial a green power bank as part of the MOD's green agenda (Picture: MOD).