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National Science Foundation, Lake Hoare, Antarctica

Photo of a Photovoltaic System Located at Lake Hoare, AntarcticaLake Hoare is a scientific research site located in Antarctica. Research at this large field site is conducted all summer and requires an energy source that does not cause pollution or engine noise.

The photovoltaic system (PV) that was installed at this site is 1.2 kW PV and was one of 10 PV systems purchased for use in Antarctica. Each system has eight 55 W panels that use a manual tracking system to optimize performance and provide power to the site. The system includes 1,000 amp-hours of deep-cycled gel batteries. The site operates all summer using only PV energy except for a three-day cloudy period when scientists need backup power to operate a large freezer for specimens. The system provides heat and electrical power to a site that is so remote that scientists must be flown in by helicopter.

Antarctica is one of the last pristine environments left on Earth. Much of its scientific value derives directly form the lack of locally generated pollution. More than 40 nations have joined together in an agreement to preserve this ecosystem. Renewable energy is helping to reduce the environmental impacts of scientific work in Antarctica. The National Science Foundation, the Antarctic Support Associates, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory have worked together to allow renewables to contribute even more.

Initial investment: $9,200
Payback period: 7.35 years
Cost savings: $1,253/year