Spring sun triggers Antarctic smart grid
As the webcam shows, the sun has returned to Antarctica after the long dark winter. This is at Belgium’s station, Princess Elisabeth Antarctica, the “Zero Emissions Station”, as you may have read before on the Ice Blog. The station is uninhabited in winter, and controlled remotely via satellite. In winter, with no sun aboutj, power comes from wind turbines. Over the last few days, enough sunlight has touched the solar panels to wake up the team of “Sunny Boys” – inverters that convert power coming from the solar panels so that it’s compatible with the station’s electric installation. The first of these awoke on July 15th, along with four others. Now up to ten are running, around half of the station’s total capacity.
With such a small quantity of sunlight, the solar panels aren’t producing much energy yet, but the station’s smart grid is reacting to the end of the long polar night: Princess Elisabeth Antarctica is waking up. “It is all going much faster than expected” says station engineer Erik Verhagen. The humans only return to Princess Elisabeth Antarctica in November, but preparations are already under way for another summer research season.
The only thing that bothers me about this sunny story is that when the sun comes back to Antarctica – we must be heading for autumn here in the north already. The temperature felt like it here in Bonn this morning – but the sun is still providing a fair bit of energy from the solar collectors on the rooftops here.
DateAugust 3, 2012 | 10:41 am