As climate change continues to bite and with it the growing business realisation that the environment, energy efficiency and cost savings can and must be linked, technology is increasingly stepping up to meet the challenge, writes Ian McInnes. In the area of airfield lighting solar LED (light-emitting diode) lighting systems appear to be gaining in popularity for both commercial and military airfields.
Carmanah Technologies Corp is all about solar lighting and power systems for industrial applications. LED technology, which converts electrical energy into light, is not new; it has been around since the 1960s. However, the development of technology pioneered in the early 1990s by Nichia Corp has brought LED lighting into everyday use and increasingly as a viable candidate for solar powered lighting. Carmanah says that it has "been putting solar to work since 1996".
Located on South Africa's west coast in Pretoria, Waterkloof Air Force Base (Waterkloof) is the largest operational military air base in Southern Africa and has been the subject of a major upgrade for several years. Waterkloof's main runway was closed from 2006 until late October 2009 as part of an R700 million (US$93.3 million) upgrade for the base. Phase 1 of the project included reconstruction of the runway and adjacent taxiways. The main runway was re-opened on October 29, 2009 by South African President, Jacob Zuma; the runway and its associated infrastructure is set to be handed back to the military for operational use in July 2010.