Antarctica - Three new wind turbines provide enough renewable, clean electricity to cover the entire New Zealand operation

In Antarctica renewable energy protects the environment, saves diesel, and saves money

Producing clean, renewable and reliable electricity in Antarctica is not easy but the winds of change have come to the ice continent. In such a delicate environment, pollution from the continent's annual diesel shipment is a major risk. Scott Base is greener than ever before. On a good windy day, Crater Hill's three new wind turbines provide enough renewable, clean electricity to cover the entire New Zealand operation. Renewable energy consultant James Mason says it makes sense on the ice.

"I think there's good environmental reasons for doing that (going green). But also good economic reasons as well, you know, it could be potentially cheaper," says Mason. Until now at Scott Base the electricity came from a diesel generator. "By the time you've shipped it all the way from Greece, you've had an icebreaker break a channel, you've had the tanker come all the way into McMurdo to unload, you've had pumping to get it into tanks, you've had pumps truck it from the McMurdo tank farm to Scott Base tank supply, it's getting to be pretty expensive diesel," says Iain Miller of Antarctica New Zealand. It's also dangerous diesel. With unique wildlife surrounding the bases, a spill could be disastrous.

But there was once an even more controversial power source on Ross Island. McMurdo station had its own nuclear reactor. It leaked, contaminated the soil and was decommissioned. "With the change in government they've noticed a significant change in focus onto renewable energy which is fantastic. That renewable energy had to come from the wind. The sun doesn't shine in Antarctica for several months every year so solar couldn't work alone. But when it blows, Ross Island is just like Wellington on an icy day.

The Antarctic switch to renewable energy actually began seven years ago at the Australian Mawson Station. "Some national programs have been quicker than others at looking at alternative sources and implementing them," says Mason. "I think there's more that can be done but New Zealand is certainly doing a good job now in catching up and looking at how they can save energy as well."

Iain Miller has the job of trying to make those savings. But Antarctica New Zealand can't afford more turbines. "There's certainly potential for more down there and it's up to the US government as to what they do there," says Mason. In Antarctica renewable energy protects the environment, saves diesel, and saves money. But it still doesn't come free.
Online Editorial www.windfair.net
Posted by Trevor Sievert, Online editorial Journalist
wind energy, wind farm, rotorblade, wind power, wind turbine

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