Proven Energy, maker of small wind turbines, is supplying eight of its 6-kW turbines for Belgium’s Princess Elisabeth Antarctic research station. Building of the station will take place during the International Polar Federation’s International Polar Year (2007 to 2008) and will enable up to 20 scientists from Belgium and other nations to carry out research on climate change.
Using wind turbines marks a major change in Antarctic stations, which have previously relied on diesel generators causing pollution in the ecologically fragile area. Diesel sets were deployed because wind turbines were thought not to be sturdy enough for the harsh environment. Proven’s turbines are well suited to the conditions at the South Pole.
In Antarctica, the average wind speed is 53 mph in winter, with gusts up to 200 mph. Once installed, the turbines will have to endure some of the most severe climate conditions on Earth, including temperatures down to -60°C while still providing 230-V electricity for the station’s heating, computers, lights and scientific instruments.