Ross Island wind farm makes steady progress

The development of Ross Island wind farm in Antarctica is on track as Meridian Energy Limited shared that the first stage of summer construction has been completed.

The Antarctica New Zealand-Meridian Energy project is part of Antarctica New Zealand’s contribution to the joint logistics pool with the United States Antarctic Program on Ross Island, Antarctica.

Providing an update, Meridian Energy’s Ross Island wind farm project manager Scott Bennett said three specially designed ‘spider’ foundations for the three wind turbines have been installed, and commissioned the power system between Scott Base and nearby US McMurdo Station to which the turbines will be connected.

The company explained that each Antarctic ‘spider’ turbine foundation consists of eight 13-tonne pre-cast concrete foundation blocks arranged in a circle in a pit, backfilled and frozen in, so the top of the blocks are nearly flush with the ground. The eight-legged steel ‘spider’ is then bolted to the concrete blocks. The wind turbine tower will attach to the top of the steel foundation to make sure the turbine can withstand some really tough conditions, including wind gusts up to 205 km/h.

The new power grid was tested by running Scott Base for two days from McMurdo Station to check connections and train operators for when the wind farm begins operation in early 2010. The wind turbine components, as well as all other equipment needed to install the turbines, have been shipped to Antarctica

Antarctica New Zealand and Meridian have been investigating the project since early 2005.