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Can Solar Support The Troops? UK Scientists Say YES.

Hefty packs may seem like par for the course if you’re in the military. Drills just wouldn’t be the same if it wasn’t raining, you weren’t trouncing through ankle-deep mud and your packs weren’t breaking your back, right? UK scientists from Glasgow, Leeds, Reading, Brunel, Loughborough and Strathclyde say, “Enough is enough!” They’re looking into ways solar power can make life easier for overtaxed military personnel.

Researchers believe they can reduce the weight of a standard pack by 10 percent with the development of a solar power pack to replace the heavy batteries soldiers currently lug around with them. Batteries are needed by military personnel to power up radios, global positioning devices and weapons.

The project began with £650,000 worth of funding and is estimated to take about two years before the prototype is revealed. The new solar power pack will be comprised of solar cells and thermoelectric devices with energy stored in a super capacitor and lithium battery, the scientists explain.

Professor Duncan Gregory from the University of Glasgow says the new solar power system promises to make army operations more effective and improve mobility for soldiers. An added benefit is that the solar pack will absorb light across the electromagnetic spectrum. This means soldiers will be less visible to night-vision goggles.


Globally, the military has been a strong supporter of solar energy technology. In other news, a photovoltaic system recently installed at Camp Pendleton, north of San Diego, will generate 2,400 megawatt hours of clean energy annually, saving $336,000 in utility costs. Portable solar panels, solar chargers, and solar tents are currently being used by marines overseas and it’s the military’s goal to rely on renewable energy for 50 percent of their overall power needs by 2020.

Photo courtesy of PEO Soldier, used under the Creative Commons License

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