Assateague Island National Seashore has recently completed projects installing several new solar-powered lighting applications. The new lighting is part of an ongoing effort to reduce the Seashore’s carbon footprint and demonstrate the utility of alternative energy sources to the local community.
The most visible of these new improvements is in the parking lot of the new Assateague Island Visitor Center where five solar-powered overhead lights illuminate the parking lot. The highly efficient LED lights are powered by batteries, which in turn are recharged by solar panels. The lights operate at varying intensities; a feature that allows lighting levels to be adjusted to the actual need rather than maintaining a constant brightness all night long.
In another recent improvement, all of the Seashore’s campground and picnic area restrooms have been fitted with solar powered lights to provide interior illumination. Running electrical lines to each of the restrooms wasn’t practical so the use of photovoltaic lights was a perfect solution. All of the new lighting systems have been designed to prevent light pollution and help protect Assateague’s night skies. Much of the Seashore is well removed from major sources of unnatural night lighting and, as a result, has some of the darkest night skies in the region.
In addition to the new lighting, the Seashore will soon add two solar panel arrays in the North Beach Day Use Area. The panels will generate more than 22 kilowatts of electricity for the ‘Beach Hut’ convenience store, and the new campground office and ranger station, scheduled to open in September.