Energy efficient technology in the Antarctic

Significant opportunities exist to reduce energy consumption by improving the performance of lighting, refrigeration and heating systems. BAS has been installing energy efficiency controls where possible, both in Antarctica and Cambridge, and has to date implemented electronic motor controls for refrigeration, motion sensors on lights to ensure they switch off when the room is empty and replaced lightbulbs with energy efficient alternatives.

BAS operates two ships in the Antarctic that are high energy consumers. Fuel use varies and is related to the speed in the water, the amount of ice-breaking required as well as the increasing work loads during a season. Wherever possible, a maximum ship speed is set in order to operate at fuel-efficient speeds. However, BAS is also undertaking a feasibility study into energy efficient retrofits that may be applicable to the ships, improvements to the propulsion systems, engine management systems and alternative hull coatings to help reduce friction and enhance durability.

There is little scope to reduce energy use of the BAS aircraft, save for minimising load weight and optimising the scheduling of operations. BAS is considering the possibility of using unmanned aerial vehicles for airborne survey and other science work which will potentially save a considerable amount of fuel by reducing field and transport energy use.