Blog Post

Veterans Empowered to Defend Native American Land

In 2016, 2,000 U.S. military veterans quickly banded together on site to protect the Native Americans who were protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline because it threatened clean water access rights and sacred burial grounds. Shortly thereafter, these veterans, known as the Veterans for Standing Rock, formed the nonprofit Veteran Service Corps (“VSC”) to continue their efforts to protect Native American rights, advance environmental conservation, and support communities that have suffered social and economic injustices.

To bolster their mission, VSC commissioned a solar-powered trailer to provide shelter and power to protestors at remote sites as well as environmental education for indigenous people and veterans. To ensure that the trailer and its equipment could be powered well into the night, VSC sought an energy storage solution ideal for a mobile trailer: lightweight for ease of mobility; compact enough to fit into available spaces within the trailer; safe and non-toxic to protect volunteers, trainers and students; and reliable over the long-term so that it could operate for a decade or longer with no maintenance.

With the support of Will Heegaard of Footprint and Sol-Up, VSC selected to install three SimpliPhi PHI 3.5 batteries in their trailer. Not only did the PHI batteries meet their requirements for size, weight, safety and long life, VSC was especially appreciative that SimpliPhi PHI batteries do not contain toxic cobalt, but instead employ the most environmentally benign lithium ion chemistry -- lithium iron phosphate, as this fits squarely within VSC’s mission to protect the environment.

Since SimpliPhi PHI batteries come with a 10-year warranty, VSC can carry on defending indigenous people, protecting their land and providing solar + storage training without worry or maintenance for at least a decade, if not longer. Additionally, since PHI batteries have been deployed by the U.S. military with a zero failure rate, VSC is confident the batteries will perform reliably.

The trailer’s off grid, DC-coupled solar + storage system consists of three PHI 3.5 kWh batteries for a total of 10.5 kWh of energy storage, ten Canadian Solar 310W modules for a total of 3 kW of solar, one Magnum 4448 inverter, and one Morningstar Tristar 60 charge controller. This system powers a chest freezer, a mini fridge, lights, communications, outlets, and a mini-split AC unit.

Long-time SimpliPhi partner, Will Heegaard, expressed his appreciation not just for the PHI batteries, but for the overall mission alignment between SimpliPhi and the project partners. “SimpliPhi has been a committed ally in our effort to mainstream sustainable energy systems in humanitarian emergencies. Their batteries work great and their leadership recognizes the challenges communities face as they try to build back greener after climate emergencies. We're honored to have SimpliPhi as a partner!”

In addition to empowering VSC to continue protecting indigenous peoples’ rights and defending against environmental injustices, this solar + storage powered trailer has also helped many disadvantaged veterans and Native Americans improve their livelihoods through ongoing renewable energy trainings. VSC is fully equipped to continue fulfilling their mission now that their solar trailer is powered 24/7 by reliable, lightweight, safe and long-lasting SimpliPhi energy storage.