A friend serving in Afghanistan wrote that after the combat troops sweep through and eliminate the Taliban, one of the things our forces do is distribute solar/dynamo radios to the Afghani people. Good idea.
This is the make and model:
6 band world receiver, AM/FM/SW
Runs off of NiMH batteries, chargable by dynamo crank, solar or AC/DC adapter. Alternate power sources: external AA batteries, Solar (direct), 220V electric (direct)
Designed in UK, made in China
It is my experience that most such devices charge only the hardwired, internal battery. They have a battery bay but neither the solar nor the dynamo will charge batteries placed in the battery bay. If they could charge rechargeable, standard size batteries, then Afghani villagers would have a dependable source of low voltage DC power, day or night, from sunlight or muscle power. They would be able to have a radio but also another battery-powered device like a light or a cell phone.
If those solar/dynamos could charge standard AA or D batteries, Afghanistan could have a village, town, regional, or provincial distributed power network. It would be low voltage and depend on rechargeable batteries but it would be electric power where there had been little or none before.
My working prototype of such a device can be seen at http://solarray.blogspot.com/...
The combination of solar power and hand cranked or pedaled dynamos charging recharcheable batteries brings power directly to the people, any people, pretty much immediately and, I believe, affordably.
We tend to think of Enviromentalism as a New Front on the War On Terror in the context of global climate change, finally joining the global effort to reduce greenhouse gases and thus improving our standing around the world. Yet ecological common sense can act in a hard power, practical security manner as well. In some very real ways, solar is civil defense, whether in Afghanistan, Iraq, Darfur, or the USA.
Solar IS Civil Defense