The solar installation will provide up to 30kW of electric power to the Casey research station, located on Vincennes Bay in the Windmill Islands, just outside the Antarctic Circle, during the Austral summer months.
The aim of the project, which is the first solar array providing power to an Australian Antarctic research station, is to reduce the reliance on diesel fuel, which is delivered yearly by the AAD’s Antarctic icebreaker, the Aurora Australis, from Hobart, Tasmania – a journey of 3,443km.
The initiative is part of a collaborative project between the AAD and Masdar on several projects which also include building an energy management system, sponsoring a Khalifa University research project to improve the monitoring of changes in the Antarctic sea ice, and enabling young Emirati professionals to visit Casey as interns.
Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi, CEO of Masdar, said: “As a global leader in renewable energy, Masdar is honoured to collaborate with the AAD to bring our expertise in clean energy from the hot deserts of the UAE to the cold desert of Antarctica as we strive to implement practical energy solutions, support research on climate change and environmental protection in line with the Antarctic Treaty System.”
The solar PV panels, sourced from German company Aleo Solar, have been built to withstand extreme weather conditions in the Antarctic, the coldest continent on earth, where katabatic wind speeds can reach nearly 300 km/h and the average temperature ranges from -10 degrees Celsius to -60 degrees Celsius depending on the time of year.
The solar PV panels were shipped from Germany to Hobart, Tasmania, and from there to Casey by the Aurora Australis in December. After extensive simulations conducted by Masdar and the technical team at Casey, it was decided that the solar panels would be mounted in a vertical position on the northern façade of Casey’s “green store” building.
Australian Antarctic Division director Kim Ellis said the system of 105 solar panels would provide about 10 percent of the station’s total energy demand.
This edited article first appeared in Arabian Business.