Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Southampton airport gets solar-powered runway lights

Lights beside runway
Image caption The solar-powered lights can operate for 120 days without charging

Solar-powered lighting has been installed alongside Southampton Airport's runway.

Nick-named "Wig Wags" the flashing lights cost £25,000 in total and are used at junctions between the runway and taxiways.

Southampton is the first UK airport to install the lights which are also used by the US Air Force in Afghanistan.

An airport spokesperson said: "We've been able to minimise the environmental footprint and maintenance costs."

Solar energy

The five units, supplied by Systems Interface Ltd in Surrey, use solar panels to convert sunlight into electricity and ensure the lights operate 24 hours a day.

Their batteries can store enough energy to permanently operate the lights for up to 120 days without any solar charging.

The lights have also been installed in areas of the airport where there is no access to power supplies, saving the £170,000 cost of laying cables.

They were trialled during last winter as replacements for the conventional lighting systems.

Image caption The five solar-powered lighting systems cost £25,000 in total

Mark Gibb, director of airside operations admitted: "It's a drop in the ocean, but nonetheless it is part of our overall commitment to, wherever possible, identify possibilities to reduce carbon emissions.

"This is one small but important example of using new, innovative technology."

The airport has a target of cutting electricity use by 2.5% throughout 2010.

Mr Gibb added the airport would look at replacing actual runway lights with solar powered models when they come for up for renewal.

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