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U.S. military brings solar power to its front lines

U.S. military brings solar power to its front lines

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The U.S. military is field testing solar power as a logistical solution on its front lines in Afghanistan.

The Marines is field testing solar panels to power mobile command centers in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan is broadly known a hotbed of geopolitical turmoil; it is also a test bed for renewable energy technologies. Solar power has brought electrification to rural communities, and now, the U.S. military is employing it with troops on forward lines.

Today, CNET published an inside view into how the U.S. military has turned to solar power as a tactical solution to take its high-tech operations anywhere it goes. One unit of Marines is now functioning entirely on solar power.

Portable solar blankets keep radio batteries charged on long patrols, solar tarps power lighting for tents at night, and solar keep command centers running with dramatically lower fuel use, according to editor Candace Lombardi.

The solar systems also ease the complexity of logistics. “These are very simple systems. You’re not always worried about doing preventative maintenance on a generator or vehicle to power the [command operation center],” Capt. Adorjan Ferenczy, an engineering officer at the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab, said in a press release.

Another advantage is that fewer supply runs means reduced exposure to improvised explosive devices, the military says. Wider adoption is expected during this fall.

“As far as disadvantages, I really haven’t seen any,” said Sergeant Wenzel, a Marine intelligence analyst from Altoona, Pa. “You don’t need any fuel, it’s much quieter than a generator but can still power any electrical asset you need.”

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David Worthington

Contributing Editor

David Worthington has written for BetaNews, eWeek, PC World, Technologizer and ZDNet. Formerly, he was a senior editor at SD Times. He holds a business degree from Temple University. He is based in New York. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure