US Marines in Afghanistan say flexible solar panels aren't just helping them cut back on fuel consumption, they're making military personnel safer. A unit testing the Solar Portable Alternative Communications Energy System—SPACES—says it reduced generators' diesel consumption from 20 gallons a day to 2.5 gallons a day, reducing the need for resupply convoys and for the noisy generators to be run at night, NPR reports.
The panels are used for lighting and to recharge batteries and laptops. "It's way more tactical not running the generators at night," a platoon sergeant says. "At night the noise of a generator can carry a long way, become a calling card for insurgents." When they first received the equipment, he adds, "I was a skeptic. As Marines, we do not always like change." The test, however, has confirmed "how crucial and important renewable energy is." Click for more on the military's switch to solar technology.