Last Saturday marked the official ribbon cutting ceremony of Antarctica‘s largest wind farm! Located on Ross Island at New Zealand’s Scott Base, the almost 1 MW wind farm is powered by three 333 kW Enercon wind turbines and will provide up to 11% of the power needed by the base, which will cut down on diesel use by 120,000 gallons and reduce carbon dioxide output by 1,370 tons annually.
The Ross Island Wind Farm was built by New Zealand wind farm developer, Meridian Energy, and cost about $7.4 million dollars. Renewable energy produced at the base reduces the need to ship down fossil fuels for use in the generators, saving hundreds of thousands of dollars as well as reducing their carbon footprint. Aside from the three turbines, a 500kW PowerStore flywheel system minimizes the impact of fluctuating power on the area’s small electric grid.
The three turbines had been running at partial power since early December, but have been running at full power since Saturday. Special guests, including Sitr Edmund Hillary’s widow Lady June Hillary and son Peter Hillary, as well as James, son of the late Sir Peter Blake were in attendance for the ribbon cutting ceremony. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had planned to be in attendance, but was called away due to the devastating earthquake in Haiti.
Ross Island’s wind farm is not the only wind farm on the continent of Antarctica. In fact, Australia’s Mawson Station has housed two 300 kW turbines since 2003. Watch a video about the farm here or see the live web cam of the farm in operation.