Wind turbines power Antarctic base

Posted by Laura Grant on February 17, 2009
Posted in featured, Renewable energy

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Princess Elisabeth research base © International Polar Foundation

The first Antarctic base to operate entirely on renewable energies officially opened on Sunday. Instead of diesel generators, Belgium’s Princess Elisabeth research station in East Antarctica, has 6kW wind turbines designed to work in extreme environments.

Most Antarctic research stations rely on diesel generators because no wind turbines were thought to be robust enough to endure the most severe weather conditions on Earth, says Proven Energy, the Scottish small wind turbine manufacturer that supplied the turbines for the base.

“They will be operating in average winds of 53 mph [85 kph] and winter gusts of over 200mph [320 kph], while still providing 230V electricity for the stations heating, computers, lights and scientific instruments,” says Proven Energy. “The electricity generated is expected to be the highest output of any small wind power system in the world.”

In addition to the turbines, both solar thermal and photovoltaic (PV) will be used on the building itself. The water supply for the station will use solar thermal panels to melt the snow thereby limiting the use of electrical energy to pump water.

The research station combines eco-friendly construction materials, clean and efficient energy use, optimisation of the station’s energy consumption and the best waste management techniques with the aim of reducing its ecological footprint on the pristine Antarctic environment, says the International Polar Foundation, which was commissioned by the Belgian government to design and build it.

The station provides state-of-the-art facilities for 16 scientists to do climate change research.

[Via: Engineering News]

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