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US Military Pioneers New Solar Power Technologies

Here & Now Guests:

  • Keith Johnson, Wall Street Journal national security correspondent
  • Dennis Slafer, president and chief technology officer for MicroContinuum, Inc.

Scientists have been searching for years to find the holy grail of solar power– an efficient and inexpensive way to harvest energy from the sun.

As has often been the case with new technology, the U.S. military is at the forefront of exploration into new and more effective ways to use solar power.

Some U.S. Marines are pioneering new solar technology by taking portable, roll-up “mats” to remote combat outposts where there are no other power sources.

“They could  actually re-power their gear on the move,” Wall Street Journal national security correspondent Keith Johnson told Here & Now’s Robin Young, speaking about how Marines are using solar power in Afghanistan. “They were able to become a lot more mobile… more lightweight, lethal, effective.  It was a real tactical bonus, and that really surprised the Marine Corps.”

A Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company called MicroContinuum, Inc., is developing the same kind of technology for civilian use in the next few years, using plastic as thin as newspaper bags.


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  • GridwerksConsulting

    Hi – great story but it is very important to know that solar power at 20% efficient is twice as efficient as the typical automobile. The exisiting electric grid is only about 33% efficient. When you add in the fact that the fossil and nuclear feedstocks we use to power our cars and electric grid have huge environmental, economic and social consequences, it makes a 10% efficient solar cell a real winner.   

    • PERPLEXED

      i was astonished to hear about the oil sands in Canada taking about a barrel of energy input for each barrel of output. HOW IS SOLAR NOT MORE POPULAR? IT’S BEEN AROUND 40+ YEARS!

  • Clloyd

    Is there any chance that solar cells could be sturdy enough to cover roads, if they can be used as roofing shingles? If we can used existing highways to gain power, it eases the dilemma of destroying wilderness to install solar farms.

  • JT Pillsbury

    I heard on the radio that they are looking for a more efficient way to store the energy in these military solar packs. Gold may able to meet these standards. Gold can also be spread so thin that it gives off a spectrum similar to the plastic material used for the for the process which is like the wall street journals plastic cover. I hope this helps on your great journey to benefit this “NewTechnological Era” we are about to embark on.
    JT Pillsbury
    http://unlimitedhorizonsdetroit.com/

  • Paul Felix Schott

    Good News From the Pentagon      Clean Fuel   Energy From the Sun       July 19, 2011
    In
    Hawaii The Department of Defense will start to cover its Military
    Family Housing with Solar Energy. This will greatly help stop the need
    for Oil in the Hawaii Islands. This is just the start to the D.O.D.
    reducing its 4 billion dollar need for Dirty Energy. From now on the
    D.O.D. will look to Renewable Energy, Clean Energy. The Hawaiian
    Islands will see the Largest Solar covered homes and housing Roofs in
    the World 6,000 units. Thanks to William Lynn Deputy Secretary of the Defense and
    Steven Chu Secretary of Energy and to many others. The D.O.D.
    has some 300,000 building the day will come when all will be powered by
    Clean Energy. i can not thank all that made this happen enough.
    GOD Bless
    United We Stand In GOD We Will Always Trust
    Story By
    The Lord’s Little Helper
    Paul Felix Schott

  • Paul Felix Schott

    Clloyd carports covering is a better one. Shade from the hot sun for your car as it is recharged. all should keep giving input to this GOD Bless
    The Lord’s Little Helper

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