Eight wind turbines in Antarctica are withstanding temperatures of
-60° Celsius and winds of over 90 m/s. The Princess Elisabeth Station was officially inaugurated in Antarctica on 15 February 2009.
This station is the only polar base operating entirely on renewable energies. It marks a major change as most stations rely on diesel generators because no wind turbines, until now, were thought to be robust enough for such extreme conditions.
The turbines will endure the most severe weather conditions on Earth, and will be operating in average winds of 53 mph and winter gusts of over 200mph, while still providing 230V electricity for the stations 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, a Scottish based small wind turbine manufacturer, supplied the 6kW wind turbines. The turbines are designed to work in extreme environments. Previous installations have weathered ice storms in Slovenia and typhoons in Japan.
The station is said to feature eco-friendly construction materials, clean and efficient energy use, optimisation of the station's energy consumption and the best waste management techniques. These techniques and facilities will aim to reduce the station's ecological footprint on the pristine environment of Antarctica, following the principles set out in the Antarctic Treaty. 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.