Can army EV contract cut military carbon footprint?

A new deal between global defence contractor Babcock International and the Ministry of Defence (MD) aims to increase understandings of how electric propulsion can be applied in the armed forces. It also emphasises the urgent need to reduce the military carbon footprint.

In a partnership with electric vehicle (EV) experts Electrogenic, Babcock has announced plans to switch four Army Land Rovers, two protected and two general service vehicles from diesel to zero emission technology. The change will involve so-called ‘drop-in kit’ and a modified battery system. 
 military carbon footprint

Once converted, the vehicles will be tested by the Armoured Trials and Development Unit (ATDU) in experimental scenarios reflecting current and future military conditions. Performance will be assessed over a range of terrains and in various climate conditions before decisions are made as to how the concept can be developed for eventual use on battlefields. 

‘This is a great opportunity to investigate alternative engine technology, which will enable the British Army to extend the life of its Land Rovers as diesel becomes obsolete,’ said Chris Spicer, Babcock’s Managing Director of Engineering and Systems Integration – Land. ‘Sustainability is an integral part of our corporate strategy and by partnering with Electrogenic, we’ll be supporting the MOD to be prepared for the shift to electric vehicles from 2030 and the UK in reaching its goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2050 .’

‘We are delighted to be working with Babcock, and we’re immensely proud to be putting our market-leading EV technology to the ultimate test with the British Army. To be selected is a testament to the sophistication of our technology, and our years of experience developing Land Rover EV conversions,’ added Steve Drummond, Co-Founder of Electrogenic. ‘At the core of our offering, is the ability to have total control over every element of the electric drivetrain. As a result, our EV technology elevates performance – particularly when in adverse conditions and off-road – to a whole new level.’

The announcement has a long time coming given the huge carbon and environmental footprints of the military-industrial complex. In the UK, official Ministry of Defence figures claim the British armed forces contribute 3m tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions to the atmosphere each year. However, Scientists for Global Responsibility (SGR) believe the true figure is 11m tonnes, equivalent to the emissions of 6m cars. Contractor BAE Systems alone accounts for around 30% of this total. 

While those numbers are high, they are dwarfed by Britain’s allies. The SGR and Conflict and Environment Observatory estimates EU bloc militaries emit 24.8m tonnes of CO2e annually, with France responsible for about one-third of that figure. The US – which claims the largest armed forces in the world – reports 56m tonnes of CO2e every 12 months. However, SGR believes this is more like 205m tonnes – the largest single source of greenhouse gas emissions on the planet. Overall, global militaries and suppliers account for 6% of total worldwide emissions. 

Image: Babcock International

More on military emissions and EV retrofitting: 

Feature: Will war in Ukraine lead to a quicker transition to renewable energy?

Military forces must come clean on their carbon emissions, say scientists

The Big Interview: Lucy Parkin, Kleanbus Director of Environmental, Social & Governance





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