Monday, 9 November 2009

Lockheed Martin Installs Solar Power Streetlights in Florida
November 05, 2009

Lockheed Martin, an advanced technology company that got its start working in the aerospace industry, has installed 35 solar LED (light-emitting diode) streetlights at its Orange County, Florida site, where the company recently won a contract to develop the Joint Strike Fighter and peripheral training, support and targeting systems.

The streetlights aren't the first solar energyed outdoor lights in Florida, but they do represent the state's largest installation, and their cost - $342,000 over 20 years, including purchase price and maintenance – still comes in considerably lower than the equivalent cost for conventional street lighting ($563,000, including new wiring and the cost of electricity). In addition, the solar energyed LEDs reduce carbon emissions generated by fossil fuel burning power plants by an estimated 17,000 tons over their lifetime, which is the equivalent of taking 3,000 cars off the road.

Using a fraction of the electricity of ordinary street lighting, the solar energyed lights are easily recognisable by the bluish tint of the light they emit. They also focus that lighting, unlike conventional street lights which shine in all directions. This means that many brands of solar LEDs qualify under the "Dark Sky" requirements of an increasing number of municipalities.

According to the International Dark-Sky Association, night lighting – from streetlights, buildings and airports, for example – causes migrating songbirds (which migrate at night via a visual geomagnetic sensor) to lose their way and often die, either as a result of collisions or because they can't find habitat. It also affects the circadian rhythms, mating cycles and foraging cycles of other wildlife, causing loss of sleep, irregular breeding and starvation, any of which can lead to species extinction.

In addition, solar energyed LEDs provide just as much illumination as conventional varieties; perhaps more, when one considers that the light is concentrated where it is needed, not all over the ground and sky. Lockheed Martin's lights, for example, brighten slightly more than 125 feet ahead even though mounted 25 feet off the ground. In addition, the LED portion of the light uses less than half the energy of conventional models, or 100 watts as compared to 250.

The lights are manufactured by Canadian-based Carmanah Technologies of Victoria, British Columbia, one of six companies evaluated in Lockheed Martin's search for a provider. A company spokesman, who admitted that solar LEDs lose their cost advantage (but not their "green" footprint) where sites are still being "prepped" for construction, also noted that only recent advances in LED technology have made the solar energyed lights commercially feasible only within the past year.

LEDs, simply expressed, are a combination of a light bulb and a computer chip, and deliver efficient, long-lasting light which can be targeted to eliminate the problem of nighttime glare and reduce impacts on wildlife. Lockheed Martin's solar energyed LEDs also work during extended periods of cloudiness, and overnight, thanks to an array of four, size-32 car batteries which are able to store enough power to keep lights going for up to five consecutive nights.