Cummins executive on military microgrids in war zones

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In a runup to Microgrid 2022, Wissam Balshe, business director of energy management solutions at Cummins Power Generation, discusses military microgrids and how global trends are impacting the microgrid market.

“There are a lot of different use cases and applications of microgrids, whether it’s to improve resiliency, counter the intermittency of renewables, provide power to areas where the utilities can’t keep up,” says Wissam Balshe, business director of energy management solutions at Cummins Power Generation.

The war in Ukraine — and the role microgrids play in war zones — are top of mind for Balshe. He tells Microgrid Knowledge Editor-in-Chief Elisa Wood that microgrids are playing a key role in military operations, especially when it comes to forward operating bases (FOBs). FOBs are small, typically mobile, temporary bases in remote areas that aren’t connected to larger, stationary military bases.

Cummins worked with the US Army to provide microgrid solutions in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the company is now in discussions with NATO in light of the situation in Eastern Europe. Most war zone microgrids are powered by diesel generators, and Balshe says this is something that Cummins is looking to change. With military applications, it’s not just about the environment or the economics  — when you have a diesel generator running 24/7, it’s hard to hide from the enemy, he says.

Balshe explains that Cummins is “paralleling now, for example, diesel with a battery to reduce fuel consumption.” His team also is looking to answer the question, “How do you operate silently with no smoke?”

Wood and Balshe also discuss other macrotrends and how they’re impacting the microgrid market. Balshe notes that microgrids can play an integral role in strengthening the power grid. “Microgrid solutions can help utilities and the ISOs and the RTOs in balancing the grid and protecting our mission-critical customers like health care facilities, data centers, water treatment plants, airports and so on,” Balshe says. He also explains how microgrids can help manage the increased electricity demand that will come from electric vehicle charging stations.

Learn more about military microgrids and how the microgrid market is changing at the next Microgrid Knowledge conference: Microgrid 2022: Microgrids as Climate Heroes.

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