Generating electricity in Antarctica is a tricky business. Most Antarctic stations use diesel generators and a few wind turbines, which is more sustainable. However, those wind turbines have to withstand harsh conditions and the strain on the material seems very big. At Australian Mawson station, part of a wind turbine collapsed on the evening of November 7. Luckily, no one was injured in the incident.

Mawson research station is Australia’s oldest Antarctic station and was established 1954. It houses around 60 people in summer and approx. 70 percent of its power needs are covered with wind energy. Credit: Chris Wilson, AAD
Mawson research station is Australia’s oldest Antarctic station and was established 1954. It houses around 60 people in summer and approx. 70 percent of its power needs are covered with wind energy. Credit: Chris Wilson, AAD

The head of the turbine fell to the ground about 9pm Mawson station time last night. General Manager of Support and Operations, Dr Rob Wooding, said all expeditioners on station were safely inside the living quarters at the time. “While Mawson can experience regular blizzards, the conditions over the last few days have been moderate, with wind gusts of up to 40 knots,” Dr Wooding said. “We have a regular maintenance schedule for all the wind turbines. The cause of the incident is unknown and will be fully investigated.”

The turbine, which is 30 meters high, has been in service since 2003 and is regularly maintained. Credit: AAD
The turbine, which is 30 meters high, has been in service since 2003 and is regularly maintained. Credit: AAD

The Enercon E30 turbine is 30 metres high and is one of two on station, which came into operation in 2003. The second turbine has been deactivated as a precautionary measure, with the station's diesel power generators being used to provide power. The German manufacturer of the turbine is being notified.

Source: Australian Antarctic Division