First wind power turbines in Antarctica

Three wind turbines constructed by New Zealander company Meridian Energy started operations at Crater Hill, Ross Island, Antarctica.

The three 37 metre-high Enercon E33 turbines have a capacity of 333 kW each. Electricity production should reduce by 11% (that is to say, 463,000 litres per year) diesel fuel consumption in two bases, New Zealander Scott and US McMurdo.

According to Meridian Energy, these wind turbines can resist winds of up to 205 km per hour, also due to special prefabricated foundations, constructed with eight blocks of concrete that weigh13 tonnes. On each of these foundations with eight arms, a steel base is anchored, where the wind tower is fixed.

In fact, in Antarctica wind power was already used in the past to meet the electricity needs of a number of bases. The first turbines were installed at Australia’s Mawson Station and at the Belgian base Princess Elisabeth in the east Antarctic, but they were eight small 6 kW turbines.

The three turbines that have been installed at Crater Hill are therefore the first ones having a considerable capacity. Besides supplying energy, they will be important to test how the turbines work in an extremely cold climate with very strong winds. The construction and development of this wind farm was unique and challenging.