By 2021, 29 facilities have incorporated renewable energy sources into their energy systems, but only one permanent station and four summer stations use renewable energy to cover more than 50% of their energy needs. Four main objectives behind the development of renewable energy systems have been identified: fuel cost savings; reduction of the greenhouse gas emissions footprint in line with national decarbonization targets; provision of electricity for scientific equipment during the winter months; and the development and/or testing of new technologies.
The extreme climatic conditions and complex logistics of Antarctica subject both solar and wind systems to enormous operational, technological and budgetary challenges.
Agenda Antártica also investigated the issue and reflected it in the publication Renewables in Antarctica: an assessment of progress to decarbonize the energy matrix of research facilities | Antarctic Science | Cambridge Core and brought it to the discussion of the Plenary of the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting.
What is the problem?
One of the largest impacts of human activity in Antarctica comes from the operation of the 91 Antarctic stations, laboratories, and camps, referred to as “facilities” in this paper. They provide accommodation for over 4000 people in summer and 1000 in winter (Wolf Reference Wolf2015) and rely heavily on fossil fuels for power generation and transportation. However, supplying fuels to Antarctica is not only expensive, but also dangerous, as the risk of oil spills and fires (ASOC 2009) poses a safety hazard with potential long-term environmental consequences.
What can we do?
The deployment of renewable energy at Antarctic stations has accelerated over the past 15 years as wind and solar technologies became more available and affordable and technological development expanded on a global scale.
-Saving fuel costs, reducing greenhouse gas emissions in line with national decarbonization goals, supplying electricity to scientific teams during winter months, and developing and/or testing new technologies are the four main objectives underlying the development of Antarctic renewable energy systems. According to the interviews conducted, most stations have plans to continue the decarbonization of their energy systems over the next 10 years.
-Budgetary constraints are a common barrier to further deployment of Antarctic renewable energy systems. From public funding as in the case of Germany to reliance on private sponsors as in Uruguay and Belgium or through the sale of Renewable Energy Certificates in Australia, stations have relied on a combination of both public and private funding to support the installation and operation of renewable energy systems.
-Long-term budget planning is necessary, including the cost not only of maintenance, but also of training the personnel in charge of operating the energy systems.
Discover our work
Who are we?
Non-profit organization (2012) that promotes policies towards Antarctic conservation from a Latin American perspective.
Where do we come from?
Co-editor together with ASOC of Antarctic Affairs (9 years), governmental lobbying, educational activities and environmental impact work.
Key environmental organization in Latin America that promotes the conservation of Antarctica and the Southern Oceans.
What we do
Policy advocacy, political lobbying, stakeholder engagement, civil society awareness and education.
In our commitment to promote the conservation of Antarctica and the Southern Oceans, we rely on a distinguished group of advisors who contribute their experience and knowledge. These experts in diverse areas play a key role in our organization.
Together, we have the power to influence the future of Antarctica and all of humanity. “The creation of marine protected areas is very important because the first thing it does is to protect the overall biodiversity of a place (…). By removing the stress effect caused by fishing from these areas, it allows the ecosystem, thanks to its natural resilience, to cope with the impact of climate change.”
Dr. Rodolfo Werner
Senior Advisor, ASOC