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Media Release
Senator the Hon Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment and Heritage

22 August 2001

Blizzard Winds to Power Australian Antarctic Station


The fury of Antarctica's coastal winds will be harnessed to power an Australian Antarctic station.

Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill said today the project would result in Antarctica's first large-scale wind turbine installation and would provide nearly a megawatt of power to Australia's Mawson station.

Senator Hill said the wind turbines were the first serious attempt by any country to obtain a significant electricity supply from the world's most powerful winds - the gravity-induced katabatic winds that howl down to the coast of Antarctica from the inland icecap.

"The Mawson system will generate well over ten times the power of existing Antarctic wind-power systems while having a much lower environmental impact than the current option of diesel fuel, now used throughout Antarctica," Senator Hill said.

"When the system is fully developed, an Antarctic station will, for the first time, be able to use a renewable source to meet virtually all its energy needs."

Senator Hill said the current use of diesel fuel to power Australia's Antarctic activities was far from ideal from an environmental perspective.

"The use of fossil fuel leads to greenhouse emissions and it also means the diesel must be transported from ship to shore and stored at stations before being used," Senator Hill said.

The new Mawson wind turbine system will rank among the world's most innovative, including the installations at Windy Hill, Queensland, and Denham in Western Australia.

The turbines, which must deal with winds in excess of 300 km/h, will be provided by the German company Enercon and installed by the company's Australian agents, Powercorp Pty Ltd, of Darwin. Work on the project begins next summer.

August 22, 2001

Media Contact: Belinda Huppatz 02 62777640 or 0419 258364

Commonwealth of Australia