Competative bidding just might be the beginning of some real reductions in the cost of both small wind and solar. US Army’s renewable power Iraqi border posts testing wind, solar power Aug 3, 2009 By Robert Moore BAGHDAD (July 17, 2009) -- Although Iraq is blessed with one of the world's largest reserves of crude oil, it has little or no refining capability and the lack of petroleum products makes it difficult to run generators that produce reliable electricity, especially in remote locations. Every day, major cities and towns in Iraq suffer through prolonged power outages. Power outages are a particularly critical problem for high-security facilities, such as border-crossing points on the Iranian border. While these facilities need uninterrupted power, they are so remote that it is impossible to connect them to the national power grid. So the engineering arm (called "J7" in military speak) from the Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq, in partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, is funding and building alternative-energy systems for these more remote locations. In particular, at the border crossing location near the city of Badrah, a combination of wind turbine and solar panels are being installed to provide reliable power for the mission- critical task of guarding entry into Iraq. "Even in Iraq, a country that is sitting on an ocean of oil, there is room for alternative energy programs," said Lt. Gen. Frank Helmick, MNSTC-I commanding general. "Wind and solar could be the answer." The MNSTC-I J7 team has designed a unique system leveraging both solar panels and a large wind turbine. Military engineers affectionately referred to the rugged system as "energy in a box." The wind turbine and solar panel will be connected to the appropriate switch gear allowing either, or both, power sources to generate electricity, depending on the environmental conditions. The wind turbine will be capable of generating 500 kilowatt hours of electricity at a wind speed of only 12 miles an hour. Additionally, 24 solar panels are being installed that can provide more than 5,000 watts of peak power. Fortunately, Iraq has plenty of sunshine during the summer season when temperatures reach 125 degrees Fahrenheit. During the evening, there is also a surprising amount of wind blowing across the border between Iraq and Iran that can drive wind turbines and charge batteries during the hours of darkness. The Iraqi Border Enforcement teams will run the systems. The coalition forces (through contractors) will provide in-depth training to the Iraqis on how to both operate and maintain the facilities. Costs vary greatly depending on the amount of electricity needed to power the facility and if solar panels or wind turbines, or a combination of both are used. Much of the equipment is covered by multi-year warranties, so the material should last a long time if properly maintained. In addition, the costs are actually less over the long term compared with the expense of transporting fuel to large generators every week.