Non-Hippie Green Power

This is the sort of non-hippie green power solutions I can get behind.

US marines go to war in Afghanistan with solar cells embedded in their rucksacks, efficient enough to recharge lithium-ion batteries for radios and greatly lighten loads.

Field patrols will soon have almost weightless solar blankets as well. These will be able to capture a once unthinkable 35pc of the sun’s light as energy with thin membranes, a spin-off from technology used in satellites.

This new kit is a military imperative. Taliban ambushes of supply convoys are a major killer. The Pentagon says the cost of refueling forward bases is $400 a gallon.  

The US Naval Air Weapons Station already relies on a 14 megawatt array of solar panels in California’s Mojave desert for a third of its power. Pearl Harbour will soon follow as the Pentagon goes off-grid, better shielded from enemies.

The US Navy will derive half its energy supply from renewables by the end of this decade, according to a report entitled Enlisting the Sun: Powering the U.S. Military with Solar Energy, by the US solar industry (SEIA). It may be a stretch to say that the US Naval Research Laboratory is the vanguard of the world’s green revolution, but not a big stretch.

“The US Defence Department is racing ahead. This could be like the semiconductor industry in 1980s where the military changed the game,” said Tony Leggett, chairman of Solarcentury.

People decry  military spending, but a great many technological advances that we benefit from today have come from commercialisation of military applications.


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  • cows4me

    It’s claimed that military technology is anything between 10 to 40 years ahead of what’s available to the civilian market. I would bet the military in some cases only pay lip service to green technology. I can understand solar cells to charge lithium batteries but large solar farms to power bases, oh please. Solar farms would be like waving a red flag saying bomb the shit out of me. So why do they have them, is it not better to have your enemies believe that you rely on old inefficient energy sources.

    • Josh Metcalfe

      Well the empty dessert of Nevada provides a good amount of energy to supplement the diminishing Lake Mead.

  • Mr_Blobby

    I can see the day when photovoltaic paint and glass powers the first 10-20 km of an electric vehicle every day.

    • philbest

      There is already systems being worked on, where electric vehicles will “take up” power from something embedded in the surface below them, sparing their batteries for much of the time – and one source of this power could be the road surface itself, and surrounding surfaces.

  • Tiberius

    GPS is ex military tech.

  • Woodburner

    Saw a similar article on the US brewing 100% biofuels in warzones from algae and sewage. Makes absolute sense, you then have a mobile fuel station with less need for a lengthy and vulnerable supply tail. And in doing so there will be massive commercialisation of that tech in a few years – far more than any green subsidy today

  • Col

    What, what, yea ok.

  • philbest

    I recall one guy being interviewed on TV in the USA in front of his house, telling the Green bureaucrats to stay out of his life, and one thing he said that stuck with me, was “I will go eco-friendly when eco-friendly DOESN’T SUCK……!”