news | 8 November 2022

Department of Defense To Prototype Commercial Cold Regions Microgrid Solution for Future Military Platforms

AGES press release aerial view
Aerial overview shot of the ARM observatory in Utqiagvik. (NOAA)

Arctic grid mobile microgrid solution for multiple end-use defense platforms

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA (November 8, 2022)—High performance operational energy microgrid capability with generator and battery storage for extreme cold weather are required for the Department of Defense (DoD) to remain competitive in the Arctic. The Joint Force requires continuous, reliable power for sustained Arctic operations down to -60°F (-51℃) with an emphasis on reducing generator fuel resupply risks, providing scalable, flexible, and high-power quality for high energy demands, and demonstrating a resilient operational microgrid capability.

The Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) has teamed with the following partners:

  • The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD),

  • The U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM),

  • The Office of the Undersecretary of Defense Acquisition and Sustainment, Operational Energy Capability Improvement Fund, 

  • The Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, Rapid Reaction Technology Office, 

  • The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Engineer Research and Development Center’s (ERDC) Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory Testing and Demonstration,  

  • The ERDC Construction Engineering Research Laboratory, 

  • The Office of Naval Research, Cybersecurity Oversight, 

  • The Army Combat Capabilities Development Command, Control, Computers, Communications, Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, 

  • The U.S. Army Program Executive Office Combat Support and Combat Service Support, 

  • Expeditionary Energy and Sustainment Systems, and

  • The MITRE Corporation.

Together, DIU and its partners are working to develop a standardized mobile microgrid unit with battery storage capabilities. This effort, called the Arctic Grid Energy Solutions (AGES) project, will increase DoD's demand signal for commercial cold region batteries, reduce barriers for the commercial sector to work with the DoD, and pave the way for future cold region microgrids with battery advancements to be seamlessly integrated and adopted within military platforms.

“The AGES system is a micro-grid composed of a battery coupled with generators in containers designed to withstand the brutal Arctic environment. The goal is to have a reliable and efficient micro-grid that is scalable and transportable, allowing various uses in supporting domestic and international missions,” said Commander Joel McMillan, U.S. Navy, of NORAD and USNORTHCOM. “The AGES system aims to provide reliable and efficient power to Arctic base camps, special operations, radar stations, communication nodes, and other critical Arctic applications. The AGES prototype is expected to be tested in the fall of 2023 and to be part of the 2024 Arctic Edge Exercise in Alaska.” 

To develop a standardized mobile microgrid unit with non-traditional battery storage that can sustain temperatures down to -60F, DoD awarded a prototype contract with HDT Global of Solon, Ohio. As part of the AGES project, the prototype calls for the accelerated adoption of commercially proven cold region technologies, contained within an energy efficient shelter, which are adaptable to extreme Arctic weather conditions, and can be rapidly deployed for expeditionary missions. 

In October, NORAD, USNORTHCOM and DIU considered thirteen solutions for testing and analysis on DoD platforms. The prototype effort will deliver a scalable design that can be used for tactical military support to the warfighter, and inform a standard integration pathway for similar  technology.

This effort will help meet The United States’ National Strategy for the Arctic  objective to “deter threats to the U.S. homeland and our allies by enhancing the capabilities required to defend our interests in the Arctic.”  Adopting a standardized DoD approach that aligns with commercial manufacturing capabilities will yield a return on investment for U.S. companies, improve domestic markets, and tie defense capability to the evolution of commercial sector batteries.