Global environmental challenges
In Antarctic base, solar energy and 10 cm commute
On a British Antarctic research station, engineer Andy Binney (pictured above at work) and plumber Adam Gerrard have what must be one of the shortest commutes in the world – 10 cm.
Here is a picture of Andy at work — installing boilers that will be partly powered by solar energy at the Rothera research station in Antarctica — and pointing to the wall behind which he sleeps. For a story about Antarctica shifting to renewable energies, click here.
Andy and Adam share the bedroom behind the 10 cm thick wall. If the boilers play up in the middle of the night, they will even be woken up by the noise.
At Rothera, run by the British Antarctic Survey, up to 100 base staff double up and share rooms with one other person in summertime. In winter, the base staff of about 20 get their own rooms. The base has a large canteen with great meals, Internet access, a weight training room, a library and a large room to relax in with beers in a fridge (maximum two drinks a day).
The project they are working on is part of a shift towards renewable energy in Antarctica — the United States, Australia, Japan, New Zealand and especially Belgium (with a base completely driven by wind and solar energy) — are doing the same.
On the right is a picture of Andy inspecting a new batch of solar panels.
Should all energy in Antarctica be renewable to help protect the environment — as well as cutting vast fuel bills? Or is that impractical because of the harsh climate?
Please tell us what you think.