Antarctica New Zealand and Meridian Energy has erected three wind turbines on Crater Hill above Scott Base on Ross Island, which is the southernmost wind farm in the world.
New Zealand is dedicated to the Antarctic Treaty principles of environmental protection and as such is committed to reducing the environmental impacts of its operations. The three 333kW turbines will reduce the amount of diesel required for power generation by around 463 000 litres and cut CO2 emissions by 1242 tonnes per year. Substituting renewable wind energy for existing fossil fuel use will reduce greenhouse gas emissions as well as reducing the risks associated with transporting and storing liquid fuel at Scott Base. The wind farm will be part of Antarctica New Zealand's contribution to the joint logistics pool with the United States Antarctic Program.
Investigations for the project began early in 2005, and funding was secured in April 2008. Site works for the project began in November 2008 and the first construction phase of the project was completed in February 2009. The first stage, operational early in 2010, links to the electrical grids of both Scott Base and McMurdo Station.
Energy sustainability arrived at 5pm on 5 December 2009, when Scott Base was connected to the wind energy supply for the first time. With the No 1 turbine producing at full capacity it was covering all of the Base's electrical demand.
The official opening ceremony on 16 January 2010, featuring a satellite link between Auckland and Scott Base, was to have been led by United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. However after the postponement of her visit due to the Haiti earthquake, the US Ambassador to New Zealand, David Huebner, performed the honours alongside New Zealand Minister of Foreign Affairs, Murray McCully. An On-Ice Dedication was held on 21 January, attended by Kristina Johnson, the US Under Secretary of Energy, Steven E Koonin, US Under Secretary of Science, DOE, Dr Karl Erb, Director of Polar Programs, US National Science Foundation, Antarctica NZ Board Chair Rob Fenwick, CEO Lou Sanson, and Ken Smales, Meridian Energy's director of renewable energy.
Further developments with the potential to reduce power plant fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions at McMurdo Station and Scott Base by up to 50% are under investigation.
This webcam is situated on Crater Hill at the site of the Ross Island Wind Energy project. Black Island is in the distance.
The image shows one of three 330Kw, Enercon E33 wind turbines which stand 33m high.These were installed by Meridian Energy and supply power to McMurdo Station and Scott Base. The sea ice runway is also visible to the right.