If you think solar technology is only used by “greenies”, Left leaning homeowners, and those aiming to save money in the long run on home and business power, you’d be mistaken. The U.S. Marines’ recent activity in desert and mountain conditions, such as Afghanistan, lends itself well to using solar technology to run military equipment.
From a military point of view, it makes sense. Why dangerously and expensively lug fossil fuels onto the field of battle when you could utilize renewable power instead? This is surely a sign of things to come for on-the-ground soldiers of the future.
Modified solar panels, like the ones in the image above, can provide power for more than 17 computers and 15 lighting units, according to Marines who tested the equipment in Afghanistan. Marines and sailors of the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment say they cut diesel consumption in generators from 20 gallons down to 2.5 gallons a day.
The marines say solar technology can help in three ways. It makes for fewer supply convoys, with less demand for fuel and batteries, and fewer trucks. Supply trucks are always open to attack. Solar power is quieter and safer to use than diesel generators. Foldable solar blankets are light and don’t take up a lot of room. They help with mobility on the ground, and save space for other supplies, like ammunition.
Solar is not without its issues though. With existing solar technology, Marines said an eight hour charge for a single radio battery took 3–4 hours; not so great when you may have to be quickly on the move. No doubt solar technology will improve over the coming years, especially if the military is helping to give it a kick along.