U.S. government to install fuel cells at 8 military posts

WASHINGTON Tue Jul 19, 2011 6:36pm EDT

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Energy Department said on Tuesday it would install 18 fuel cell backup power systems at eight U.S. military posts, as part of a partnership with the Defense Department to bolster energy security.

"Projects like these fuel cell systems will help reduce fossil fuel use and improve energy reliability at military installations across the country," Energy Secretary Steven Chu said at the U.S. Army and Air Force Energy Forum.

Players from the Pentagon, industry, think tanks and Congress were discussing ways to help the military cut its appetitive for fuel at the forum, outside Washington.

The U.S. military used about $13.2 billion of petroleum in military operations in 2010, Chu said.

He said alternative aviation fuels, biofuels and energy-efficient military vehicles could effectively reduce fuel consumption and the cost of transporting fuels to military personnel fighting wars in far-flung locations.

Diesel generators are widely used for backup power in military installations. Compared to generators or batteries, fuel cells are believed to require less maintenance, cut noise and emit fewer pollutants.

The fuel cell project will cost $6.6 million, the Energy Department said.

"The primary challenge facing currently available fuel cells is the higher cost of the units, compared to conventional technologies they replace," it said.

(Reporting by Malathi Nayak; Editing by Dale Hudson)

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