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Scottish Turbines Power Antarctic Base

Feb 17, 2009- Scotsman

Wind turbines from a Scottish micro-generation company are supplying electricity to the first Antarctic base powered only by renewable energy.

Eight turbines from the East Kilbride-based Proven Energy have been installed at the Princess Elisabeth Station, a new revolutionary building that was officially opened yesterday.

The Belgian station aims to be the most eco-friendly on the continent, using only turbines and solar power. Previous stations have been forced to rely on diesel generators, with wind turbines not thought to be robust enough to cope with the harsh conditions and solar power not providing enough generation capacity.

Proven's 6 kilowatt turbines will have an extreme test, even by Antarctica standards. Princess Elisabeth is situated on the Utsteinen ridge, exposing the aerodynamic station to gales of up to 200mph, with temperatures as low as -60 degrees Celsius.

The turbines will operate in average winds of 53mph, providing 230 volts of electricity for the station's heating, computers, lights and scientific instruments for up to 16 scientists at a time.

According to Proven, whose turbines have weathered ice storms at installations in Slovenia and typhoons in Japan, the electricity generated is expected to be the highest output of any small wind power system in the world.

Operations manager Richard Caldow said: "This is a great credit to our company that International Polar Foundation has chosen us to work with. They recognise the confidence others have in our technology."