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The U.S. Army Research Development and Engineering Command is experimenting with flexible solar cells that could help the U.S. Army save millions of dollars in fuel costs and bolster mission effectiveness by requiring fewer shipments of fuel to remote locations.

“Solar shade produces two kilowatts of power – that may not seem like a lot, but in a remote area it’s perfect because you don’t have to worry about transporting fuel or replacing parts,” Major Tim Franklin told U.S. Army Africa Public Affairs. “You could place this on a remote mountain site to provide power for a radio retransmission site [since] it requires very little maintenance,” he said.

“Because of the overall benefits, Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa wants to keep the equipment and have added it to their property books since they plan to use it in other locations and on other missions in Africa,” U.S. Army Africa Public Affairs reported. “The solar shade produces power and gets about 70 to 80 percent blockage of the sun, so the shade is cooler than many of tents or shades used now and it produces clean energy from the sun,” said Franklin.

Given that the solar cells are still in the experimental phase, there is no mention if the technology will be deployed to combat theatres in Afghanistan. Yet the U.S. Army’s investment in and testing of the technology demonstrates their continued efforts to develop alternative energy sources in order to help the military reduce its dependence on the long and vulnerable logistical tether to the energy it requires to complete its missions.

Photo: The experimental solar cells are shown here in Djibouti, Ethiopia. Courtesy of U.S. Army Africa.