UK Solar Soldier Program To Lighten The Load

Solar energy is again playing a role in ensuring the safety and comfort of armed forces personnel in war zones. A team of British scientists has started work on a solar power pack that would lighten the load individual soldiers must carry by 50 percent, allowing a higher degree of mobility.
   
British Forces News reports British Ministry of Defence’s two-year Solar Soldier program is aimed at integrating solar cells used to harvest energy from the sun with a highly efficient lithium battery. This would replace the weighty batteries infantry units currently use to power the advanced technology that has become a vital part military work; such as GPS systems, weapons and radios.
   
According to the MoD, by absorbing and storing solar energy from across the electromagnetic spectrum, a soldier wearing the new solar power pack would be harder to see with infra-red night-vision technology. 
   
Solar Soldier team member, Professor Duncan Gregory from the University of Glasgow, said the new packs would improve valuable troop mobility because they would not need to be recharged at a fixed site.
  
“A lot of the weight would be distributed differently with these new power packs . . . we are aiming to reduce the size of those batteries, if not replace them completely. Batteries can account for over 10% of the 45kg to 70kg of equipment that infantry currently carry,” he said.
  
Solar power is no stranger to war. For Coalition troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, solar power has proven to be an invaluable replacement for vulnerable petroleum resupply columns. President Barack Obama last year called the US Defence Force to start making the switch to renewable energy wherever possible to put an end to the "tyranny of fuel."