Solar Updates Marines’ Arsenal

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

Marines go through a lot of batteries, so they’re giving solar chargers a try:

Batteries make up as much as 20% of the weight of the 100 pounds of gear a Marine infantryman typically carries. A Marine uses four times as much fuel as his counterpart did in the early 1990s — due to, among other things, laptops and other electronic gear that use electricity pumped out by portable generators.

Some 30% of all fuel trucked into Afghanistan — at great risk — goes to power those generators, at a time when roadside bombs remain the most dangerous weapon faced by allied troops.

While the U.S. military has been seriously studying renewable energy since at least 2001, the impetus for change was the high casualty rate on fuel convoys in Iraq and Afghanistan. Mr. Mabus told Congress last year that one U.S. service member is wounded or killed for every 24 fuel convoys.

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