Antarctic pilot solar power project “Troll Green Station”
The Norwegian Polar Institute is a directorate under the Norwegian Ministry of the Climate and Environment. The Institute has arranged Antarctic expeditions regularly since 1976. Troll is the Norwegian research station in Antarctica, located at 1,275 m above sea level in Dronning Maud Land. The facility attempts to minimize its environmental impact through several mechanisms, including minimizing area usage. Energy consumption is reduced by using recirculating excess heat to melt snow and ice for drinking water and heating. Waste is minimized through purchase planning and recycling. In October 2015 the Norwegian Polar Institute conducted a feasibility study for the integration of renewable energy in Troll, with focus on solar power. The project is called “Troll Green Station”. Considering the special conditions of the location, it has been decided to build a pilot solar power project on the roof of one of the buildings (Blabo-I) in order to build competence and collect data. The pilot project will give better understanding of the conditions and the system for a more efficient planning of the full project implementation.
The LG involved worked on a tight schedule to complete the pilot PV installation with 7.3 kilowatt peak before Antarctic winter. All required components have been transported to the Troll research station with the research vessel “Lance”. In March 2016, the system was up and has been running.
■ Extreme weather conditions
The Antarctic environment is extremely harsh; temperature goes down as low as -60 °C and wind gusts up to 77 m/s (280 km/h). For generation, because solar modules have to endure the temperature and wind load, high expectations have been on the LG’s solar modules, LG NeON® 2. The LG NeON® 2, LG’s best-selling solar module, is renowned as the product received Intersolar AWARD 2015 with Cello Technology™ which replaces traditional ribbons to thin wires. Through Cello Technology, LG NeON® 2 not only increased power output, but also reinforced reliability. This solar module can generate stably even though micro crack has occurred in a harsh circumstance thanks to Cello Technology™.
■ Solar production fits the consumption profile
While commonly being thought of as a location with a low solar irradiation, in practice the Antarctic does feature very long days with up to 24 hours of sunshine during the Antarctic summer. Together with a symmetric orientation of the solar panels, this sums up to a respectable projected specific annual yield of approximately 957 kWh/kWp. Being the Troll station located in an area, considered a desert with a very dry climate, snow usually doesn’t lay for long on the modules and is blown away by the wind. This implementation will unburden the diesel generator at a high level, without installing battery storage units. Due to a maximum occupancy of 40 people during the Antarctic summer (from September to March), while not more than 8 are living in the research station during winter (from March to September), the solar production will fit the consumption profile surprisingly well. That way, at its final stage the project “Troll Green Station” will significantly reduce the ecological impact of the research station in a cleverly economical way.