The Australian Government’s wind turbine project at Mawson station in Antarctica won a Tasmanian Engineering Excellence Award on Friday night in Hobart.

The wind turbines are the first of their kind internationally to operate in the windiest and wildest parts of the world.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr Sharman Stone, said the project was a great engineering feat.

“These turbines operate in the harshest Antarctic conditions with winds reaching up to 250 kilometres an hour,” Dr Stone said.

“Situated on the edge of the Antarctic continent, the wind turbines are like two pieces of moving sculpture.

“Special cranes had to be acquired to assemble them and particular gearing installed so that they could withstand the strongest winds that the Antarctic blizzards throw their way.

“The fact that we have been able to harness this power and convert it to energy is not only an amazing engineering achievement but a tremendous bonus for the environment.

“An energy source like the wind is not only highly efficient but clean.”

Dr Stone said the energy created by these turbines should reduce the amount of diesel fuel required by the Australian Antarctic Division by over two thirds, from 600,000 litres a year to less than 200,000 litres.

“We're not only creating environmentally sound energy but we're significantly reducing the amount of diesel fuel that has to be shipped into Antarctica.”

The Australian Government renewable energy projects are seeing wind farms and solar energy pop up in some of the remotest part of the Australian continent. With the Antarctic stations now using renewable energy the Australian Government is demonstrating its commitment to achieving its Kyoto greenhouse gas emission reduction targets.

The wind turbine project cost approximately $6.5 million and involved four full-time engineers. The Australian Antarctic Division worked with Northern Territory based company Powercorp on the project.

The wind turbine project was one of three winners out of 19 entries in Tasmania. The project is now through to the National Engineering finals to be held in Canberra in November.