16 Jan 2010

World's southernmost windfarm opened

10:00 pm on 16 January 2010

The world's southernmost windfarm has been opened in Antarctica.

Its three turbines will supply power to New Zealand's Scott Base and the United States' McMurdo Station.

Scott Base will now be almost entirely run on wind-generated power, with diesel consumption at both bases cut by about 463,000 litres per year.

The state-owned enterprise Meridian Energy, which built the turbines, says it faced extreme challenges in building the windfarm.

With temperatures as low as 57 degrees below zero, spokeperson Alan Seay says, the usual construction process was not possible.

Its spokeperson, Alan Seay, says the environment required an unusual construction process. Because you can't pour concrete in Antarctica, he says, the concrete foundations were precast in new Zealand, flown to the site and "literally frozen into place".

Mr Seay says the $10m project was mostly paid for by the New Zealand Government.

He says other wind turbine sites are available, with solar power also being considered.