David Telfer, 16th February 2009
EIGHT Scottish-built wind turbines in Antarctica are withstanding temperatures of -60C (-76F) and average winds of 53mph.
The International Polar Foundation’s Princess Elisabeth Station, which was officially inaugurated in Antarctica yesterday, is the only polar base operating entirely on renewable energy.
Most stations rely on diesel generators because no wind turbines, until now, were thought to be robust enough for such extreme conditions.
The 6-kilowatt turbines, built by East Kilbride-based Proven Energy, will provide electricity for the station’s heating, computers, lights and scientific instruments. The electricity generated is expected to be the highest output of any small wind power system in the world.
Proven Energy operations manager Richard Caldow said: “It is a great credit to our company that International Polar Foundation has chosen us to work with. They recognise the confidence others have in our technology, which is a testament to our product.”
Princess Elisabeth Station combines eco-friendly construction materials, clean and efficient energy use, optimisation of the station’s energy consumption and the best waste management techniques to reduce the station’s ecological footprint on the environment of Antarctica.
In addition to the turbines, both solar thermal and photovoltaic panels are being used. The photovoltaic panels convert the sun’s rays into electricity. Water supply for the station will use solar thermal panels to melt snow, limiting the use of electrical energy to pump water.
The International Polar Foundation was founded in Belgium to communicate and educate on polar science and research as a way to understand key environmental and climate mechanisms.