• Wed. Apr 21st, 2021

Antarctic’s solar power


Dec 14, 2020

Many people are wondering why a photovoltaic system was installed in the Antarctic. The region has extreme sunlight variances in hours, wind speed of over 200km/hr, and temperatures are below -89°C. The Uruguayan government is so much committed to renewables, and 97% of its power comes from wind, solar, biomass, and hydroelectric. By now, the country has drastically decreased the use of fossil fuels following its ten-year program. The country has a research center based in the Antarctic and has been operating for over 30 years. One of the research bases is the Artigas base, which has 15 crew members and ten research scientists. 

There before, diesel generators powered the base. The government-appointed Technova Renovables, a subsidiary of Tecnogroup, to lead on renewables integration at the Artigas Base. Tecnogroup has extensive experience in procurement, development, construction, maintenance, and operation of renewable power plants. Technova Renovables was to carry out a solar system project with the ability to withstand the environmental challenges. This challenging nature of the project led to the collaboration between various agents such as the government, the local utility company, the ministry of energy, Instituto Antártico Uruguayo, and UTE. 

The challenge of the Photovoltaic system

It is essential to note that the Antarctic is an inhospitable area across the globe and spans 14,000 km2. With harsh climatic conditions, the main challenge was how to design, install, and PV technology performance testing. Sunlight hour’s variation was also a challenge since it is minimal. The anticipated timeline was squeezed since the project had to be finished prior to season changing. 

All the partners involved in the projects cooperated very well, and this made the 1.2kW plant be installed successfully. There was significant consideration of sunlight hour’s variation and excessive temperatures for the PV system installation. In mounting solar panels, they were tilted at a 90-degree inclination on the existing machine room walls so as to overcome heavy winds at the site and snow accumulation. 

The project’s success was attributed to mutual collaboration, thorough planning, and selecting reliable installation components. Tecnogroup uses PV connectors from Stäubli to acquire a dependable, reliable, and constant power feed-in. The MC4-Evo 2 connectors have already proved their dependability and reliability since the project was installed and its ability to endure harsh and unpredictable climate conditions. The PV system installation will not be useful to Artigas’s base only by reducing the cost of its operations. Still, it will also be a great step in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and transition to green energy.