Fully Self-Sufficient

In an interview on TVNZ News at Six on the 28th of June, the Scott Base Redevelopment Senior Project Manager, Simon Shelton, said, “It’s about three times the cost to build in Antarctica, that’s a fully self-sufficient building in the most harshest [sic] continent on earth.”

This raised a few questions as well as eyebrows. At least he avoided the word “sustainable”!

Fully self-sufficient…

Solar powered? Perhaps for six months of the year when the sun appears over the horizon and there is not a blizzard blowing. There are what appear to be solar panels on the north wall of the top level building. If solar is the answer then there is going to be a whole new meaning to the term ‘Wintering over’ for those who stay after the summer season ends.

Wind powered? It can get pretty windy down there so keeping a turbine upright might be tricky. In 2016 in Sweden the rotor blades of a wind turbine up iced up bringing the blades to a complete stop.

To fix the “problem” a helicopter was employed (burning aviation fuel) to spray hot water (which was heated in the frigid temperatures using a truck equipped with a 260 kW oil burner) on the blades of the turbine to de-ice them.

There did not seem to be any wind turbines in the video, but that may have been an oversight.

Hydro powered? The water in the dam and penstocks might freeze, so probably not a starter.

Nuclear? Since it is a New Zealand dependency that is probably not on the drawing board.

Clearly they will not ship in evil fossil fuels to power the place as that would not be “self-sufficient”, but I do wonder what is going to heat the gases that will be exhausted from the flues in the concept design.

Maybe they are for wood-burners using wood from the nearby forest. Will some of Jones’ billion trees be planted there?

Perhaps there is a gas field under Scott Base and they are going to do a bit of sneaky fracking without telling the Comrade or Dr Woods?

Over to the Oilers to brainstorm this quandary. And while in thinking mode perhaps suggestions for why they will be studying the ice since it is supposed to have melted by 2030 when construction finishes.

Tis a great mystery.