The South Pole's Mawson Station is the oldest surviving research facility located south of the Antarctica. The structure is powered by wind energy turbines that the Australian Antarctic Division installed in 2002.
The Mawson Research Station is located on the edge of the Antarctic plateau. It is the oldest surviving facility that continuously operates on the Antarctic Circle. Among the three research stations operated by the Australian Antarctic Division, Mawson was one of the most inaccessible.
The Mawson Station included research on atmosphere physics, automated atmospheric sciences, medicine, climate, meteorology, biology, seismology, geomagnetism and cosmic ray physics. Its location was very remote that is was difficult to deliver diesel fuel for its generators.
AAD built wind turbines for the station back in 2002 and 2003 due to its outstanding wind resources. Before the wind turbines were installed, the Australians had to make impact assessments on the environment to ensure that benefits outweighed the negative effects.
Due to harsh weather conditions, installation of the wind turbines led to several challenges. Also, it required a 100-ton crane installation for provisions larger than a traditional ship with ice-breaking capabilities.
The research facility's electrical system comprises of a 550 kilowatt diesel generator and the 600 kilowatts that the wind turbines produce. These energy resources are used to meet 450 kilowatt peak loads.
The research facility's electrical loads interestingly go far beyond warm air comfort, plug loads, and lighting. The station also features some residential luxuries like a sauna and spa that requires a large amount of electricity as compared to daily electrical usage.
With the addition of wind energy, diesel requirements were cut in half. Although rarely using the generators removes heat sources, the Australians added a boiler system in tandem to the wind turbines to heat water and buildings. To this day, the old wind turbines are still operating at high levels despite the harsh cold weather.