NPS to Build Power System in Antarctica

September 21, 2000 by Jeff Shepard

Northern Power Systems (NPS, Waitsfield, VT) has been awarded a contract from the University of Mississippi and the University of Alaska's Geophysical Institute (UA-GI) for a telepower photovoltaic/fossil-fuel hybrid-power system for deployment on the continent of Antarctica. This system will provide year-round power for the UA-GI's infrasonic monitoring station at a location called Windless Bight.The telepower system architecture is based upon a photovoltaic array and dual diesel generators, operating in a cycle-charge mode. In such operations, the load runs off the system's battery bank. When the battery reaches a preset state of charge (SOC) the system's controller commands the genset to recharge the battery up to full SOC. Although during certain months of the year the site gets no sunlight whatsoever, during the Antarctic summer when the earth is tilted towards the sun, the site's solar resource is robust. Solar energy produced by the photovoltaic array is sufficient to support the entire load requirement during those months.The system will be built and tested at Northern's Vermont facility. In late November 2000, the system will be shipped to Port Hueneme, CA where it will be placed aboard a ship and transported to McMurdo Station, the main US base on the continent. At the end of January, when the sea ice surrounding the site melts, the system will be mounted on steel skis and then literally dragged out to Windless Bight.