Antarctica seems more like a dead zone than a haven for renewable energy, but solar and wind power are slowly taking hold on Antarctic research bases. The Rothera base already has a $58,000 set of solar thermal panels that generate 15 kW of energy, and soon it will receive $11,000 German Ritter Solar GmbH panels. According to Rothera scientist William Ray, more solar energy can be collected on the Antarctic Peninsula than in London.
Wind energy is also becoming popular on Antarctic research bases— probably because Antarctica is the windiest place on earth.
A New Zealand company called Meridian is set to ship wind turbines to New Zealand’s Scott Base and the American Antarctic station for what will be be the most southerly wind farm in the world. The turbines, which will replace fuel-powered generators, could save up to 500,000 liters of fuel each year.
Australia’s Mawson base has been using two 300 MW wind turbines since 2003.
Anyone installing solar panels and wind turbines in Antarctica has to be ready for the most extreme weather conditions imaginable. But if we can cut fuel costs to Antarctic bases, more money can go towards important climate research.
Photo Credit: CC licensed by Flickr user House Photography
Ariel Schwartz was formerly the editor of CleanTechnica and is a contributor at Fast Company, Inhabitat, Triple Pundit, SF Weekly, and NBC Bay Area Online. A graduate of Vassar College, she has previously worked in publishing, organic farming, documentary film, and newspaper journalism. Her interests include permaculture, hiking, skiing, music, relocalization, and cob (the building material). She currently resides in San Francisco, CA.