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Solar power in the Antarctic

Many countries have installed research bases in the Antarctic to conduct various studies in this very special landscape and its unique climate. Temperatures below -89°C, winds over 200km/h, extreme variances in hours of sunlight, with up to 16 hours in the summer and only two during winter, pose tremendous challenges for both research teams and equipment. PV connectors from Stäubli are part of a demanding new field of application: installing solar power in the Antarctic.

The Uruguayan government is a strong advocate for the integration of renewables and following a ten-year programme to reduce its dependency on fossil fuels. 97% of the electricity now comes from hydroelectric, solar, wind and biomass. The country has been maintaining a research base in the Antarctic for over 30 years. The Artigas base, opened in 1984, is home to 10 research scientists and 15 crew members in summer.

The base was traditionally powered by diesel generators. Besides the environmental impact, the logistics involved made the use of fossil fuels an inefficient and costly solution for generating electricity.

The government selected Technova Renovables, a Tecnogroup subsidiary, to review the potential and lead on the integration of renewables at the Artigas Base. Tecnogroup is a conglomerate of Uruguayan companies with extensive international experience in the development, procurement, construction, operation and maintenance of renewable energy plants. The project included the delivery and installation of a pioneering solar system designed to withstand the environmental challenges within this delicate ecosystem.

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