The Antarctic Treaty requires all signing parties to "limit adverse impacts on the Antarctic environment," so it makes sense that research stations are moving towards using renewable energy, despite the challenges presented by the extreme weather.
The icy cold can make plastic brittle, the strong winds can overwhelm wind turbines and solar panels work great during long summer days, but are useless during dark winters. But none of this has stopped some bases from moving ahead. Belgiums's Elizabeth research station hopes to be the first to rely solely on wind and solar power, England's Rothera base is installing solar thermal panels for heating water and air, Japan's Syowa base is already using solar power and Australia's Mawson station has been using wind turbines since 2003.
The major motivator for the switch is avoiding the pollution and high transport costs that come with burning fuel. The Rothera base has already seen a savings of 1,000 liters of fuel from their solar thermal array. A wind farm planned to power both the New Zealand and U.S. stations will save approximately 463,000 liters of fuel per year, an 11 percent reduction.
Implementing renewable energy in Antarctica will certainly be a challenge, but it could reveal weaknesses in the technology that will help us be more successful in climates less extreme.
written by Yoshi, January 28, 2009
written by Robert Moen, January 28, 2009
written by Martin Smallman, January 28, 2009
written by Carol, January 28, 2009
written by Martin Smallman, January 29, 2009
written by Tim, February 01, 2009
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