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Renewable and alternative energy in the Antarctic

Significant opportunities exist in the Antarctic, for installing renewable and alternative energy systems to supplement or replace hydrocarbon fuel burning generators. To achieve our overall vision and objectives, we are working towards replacing or supplementing some conventional diesel generator sets.

Major engineering and environmental challenges exist for installing renewable and alternative energy systems in Antarctica. In order for BAS to optimise such systems for use in Antarctic stations it will require careful design work, engineering resources and well trained technical staff to deal with more sophisticated systems. However, experience of existing installations and activities by other Antarctic operators indicate that significantly larger systems can be installed and be cost effective.

BAS has also had positive experiences of such systems, as micro-scale solar arrays and wind generators have been installed in remote locations in Antarctica to support instrumentation systems for a long time now.

Currently, solar hot water systems have been installed at King Edward Point, South Georgia and Signy and another system is being installed on existing infrastructure at Bird Island. In addition, a large system of 36 solar panels for solar heating of fresh air to New Bransfield House has recently been completed at Rothera.

The best opportunity for large-scale renewable energy is at Rothera where both a large wind turbine and solar photovoltaic array are possible. We have commenced a detailed feasibility study for large scale renewable energy installation for Rothera.