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Summit Station Wind Power Pilot Project
Tracy Dahl
Polar Field Services
Partner in CH2M Hill Polar Services

Proven WT6000 installation at Summit Station
Proven WT6000 at Summit Station
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Windy Boy controllers
Windy Boy inverters
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System  Wind turbine icon  Grid-tied, 6 kW wind turbine
Location The highest point on the ice cap of Greenland at 10,660' elevation.   (72° 35' N, 38° 27' W)
Description Overview

A pilot project to test the viability of wind power at Summit Station.

Summit Station is an important polar scientific research platform. It is the only high-altitude (10,660' elevation), high-latitude (72.35 degrees North) research station in the northern hemisphere. Due to the auspicious location on the top of the Greenland ice cap, Summit is the site of the permanent, year-round, GEOSummit environmental observatory, and the location of a National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) atmospheric watch observatory. While Summit hosts a diverse range of international studies, the majority of research projects focus on atmospheric and near surface snow chemistry. The burning of fossil fuels for power generation is expensive and has serious deleterious effects on the research. As such there is considerable focus on weaning off of diesel generation and relying more heavily on renewable energy power generation.

Summit Station is a high polar environment. During the peak of the boreal summer, the sun is in the sky 24 hours a day, and the ambient air temperature can reach 0C (32F). In winter, the sun does not rise above the horizon for three months, and temperatures can reach a low of -70C (-94F). Average annual wind speeds are around 5.83m/s (11.66 knots or 13.04mph), but wind speeds exceeding 85 mph have been recorded. Snow accumulation is on the order of 70 CM per year.  Due to the extreme cold temperatures, any precipitation or wind blown snow tends to accumulate permanently. In the station proper, structures and equipment exacerbate the problem, and greater than a meter of permanent snow accumulation per year is possible. Entire buildings can be buried to the roof from drifting snow in a single high wind event. These pose serious challenges to implementing wind power solutions at the site.

This wind power pilot project consists of a 6 kW rated Proven wind turbine that is tied in to the local diesel generator grid. There is no energy storage. The diesel generators run continuously, providing the voltage and frequency signal for the inverters to lock to. Instantaneous penetration levels do not exceed 20%. Average penetration level is around 4%.

Web based monitoring, see: http://polar.sri.com/summitcamp/status/power/wind

A more complete description in PDF can be found here.

  • Turbine: Proven WT6000/300
  • Tower: Proven, 15m, tilt-down, monopole (modified for guy cable support)
  • Controller: Proven ECM 6004ME/300 isolation rectifier/controller
  • Inverters: 3ea) SMA 2500U "Windy Boy"
  • DC Control: SMA "Combi-Switch", fused DC combiner/disconnect
  • Monitor: SMA Sunny WebBox