> Home > Examples > McMurdo SoundMount Erebus

Lower Mount Erebus Hut
Joe Yarkin

Tracy Dahl
CH2M Hill Polar Services

Lower Mount Erebus Hut 
Garage/Shop at Lower Mount Erebus Hut site showing side solar panels and wind turbine.
(click on image for larger version)
System Solar icon Wind icon Battery icon Generator iconPhotovoltaic/wind hybrid with battery bank and portable generator back-up.
Location West shoulder of Mt. Erebus, Antarctica ( 7 30 37.6 S 167 08 45.8 E 3347.31).
Description The facility was built as a research camp for the study of Mount Erebus, an active volcano with a molten lava lake in the caldera. The peak of the mountain is another 1000 feet (340M) higher than the camp, and within reasonable traveling distance. The Erebus camp houses as many as 12 researchers for the austral summer season, November – February, and collects data year round.

The power system for this camp consists of a 400-watt Air Industrial wind generator, operating year round, and 550 Watts of solar panels deployed  in the summer only. Both charging systems feed into a large battery bank. Up to 4 kW of 120VAC power is available for use in the summer season for living and lab space, while DC loads are year round to support data collection and typically run 10-30 Watts. During the summer, scientists will often bring up a 5-kW gasoline generator to supplement the power system as necessary.

The battery bank has sixteen 125 AH, AGM type batteries, connected in 24 volt configuration to store an adequate amount of power between wind charging events during the long, cold winter. The battery bank is rated at nearly 1000 AH at 77’ F (25’C) , but is capable of storing only 300AH in more typical -30’F (-34’C) ambient temperatures. All charging circuits are temperature compensated to meet the needs of the cold batteries. Typically charging voltage is raised 0.03 volts per degree Celsius below the rating temperature.

Winter low temperatures often dip to -50’ F (-47’C), with wind speeds that can reach 90 MPH (45 m/sec). In addition to the extreme cold, the power system is challenged by the precipitation of salts from the volcano, which eventually coat the surfaces of solar panels and cover all wind equipment. The salts are slightly corrosive to electrical connections, which necessitates periodic cleaning of the solar panels. Due to these factors, and rime icing, the average life of deployed wind generators in this environment is 2 years and annual system maintenance is required.
  • Solar Array: Six BP75, 75-Watt solar panels, Two Solarex MSX64, 64-Watt solar panels
  • Charge Control: RV Power, 5000DL 50-A maximum power point tracking (MPPT) charge controller
  • Battery Bank: Sixteen Concord SunXtender PVX1080T, valve regulated absorbed glass mat (AGM) type deep cycle batteries, rated at 126 AH at the 120-hour rate. The batteries are connected in a 24VDC series/parallel configuration
  • Inverter: Trace/Xantrex  SW4024, 4000-Watt, 24 volt, true sine wave inverter/charger.
  • Wind turbine: South West Windpower, “Air Industrial”, 400 Watt. Morningstar “Tri-Star”, 60-A diversion load controllers each with 40-A diversion loads
  • Over current protection:
    • 350-A DC breaker protecting Inverter from battery bank
    • Two 30-A DC breakers protecting charge controller from batteries and solar panels
    • Two 20-A output breakers
  • Battery Power Monitor: Bogart Engineering, Trimetric TM-2020 with 500amp shunt connected to meter real net energy production and battery state of charge.
  • 30-A DC output breaker for year round use
Mount Erebus inverter Inverter, charge controller and battery bank (four additional batteries are behind tne wall).
Mount Erebus load Dual diversion load controllers for backup battery protection from excess wind generator output.
Data Data not communicated from this site.
Comms No communications devices are associated with this system.