The Antarctic summer sees 24 hours of sunlight a day. This is a valuable resource as renewable energy.

Casey solar farm

The first Australian solar farm in Antarctica was switched on at Casey research station in March 2019. The system of 105 solar panels, mounted on the northern wall of the ‘green store’, provides 30 kW of renewable energy into the power grid. That’s about 10% of the station’s total demand.

The panels have been designed to strike a balance between maximum solar gain and stability in the wind. Mounting them flush against the wall ensures that they are easy to install, access and maintain.

VHF repeaters and remote radio installations

VHF repeaters extend communications coverage around the stations for hand held and vehicle radios. Repeaters in Antarctica and on Macquarie Island can extend coverage up to 100 km depending on the line of sight.

Almost the whole of the Vestfold Hills region around Davis has VHF coverage. The VHF repeater on Tarbuck Crag makes it easy for expeditioners in the field to communicate with Davis with just a small hand held radio.

At some of the repeater sites, energy is generated by a combination of wind and solar power. Most of the repeaters are in remote locations on hills and mountain tops. These sites have extreme wind conditions that can damage wind turbines, so there is a greater reliance on solar power.

Remote Area Power Supply (RAPS) unit

The Remote Area Power Supply (RAPS) units can generate power from 3 sources — petrol, solar and wind — and store it in batteries. They are housed in self-contained, weatherproof accommodation.

RAPS units are used in Macquarie field huts. The first 2 modules were installed during the 2000–01 summer at Bauer Bay and Green Gorge. 3 more were installed at the Brothers Point, Hurd Point and Waterfall Bay field huts in 2001–02.

The RAPS units can easily be transported by helicopters. Installation is easy and maintenance is straightforward. The RAPS units solve many occupational health and safety issues. They have been designed to minimise and contain any accidental fuel spills which may occur in the sensitive environment of Macquarie Island.