Arctic adventure for FuturEnergy turbine

An innovative high-power wind turbine is helping the crew and scientists aboard an icebound exploration vessel survive an Arctic winter

An innovative high-power wind turbine produced by Stratford-upon-Avon based FuturEnergy is helping the crew and scientists aboard an icebound exploration vessel survive an Arctic winter.

Currently undergoing its maiden Arctic voyage, the French 18.5m long icebreaker, the Aurora Magnetica, operates as a completely self-contained winter base for a crew of two and from six to nine scientists, photographers and engineers. The crew is enduring the bleakest of Arctic winters, with ferocious freezing winds and temperatures as low as -29ºC.

With the aim of reducing its impact on the Arctic’s fragile ecology, the vessel is designed to be as energy-efficient as possible, minimising its use of diesel by making extensive use of clean, free, renewable energy from the wind and sun.

Mounted 12m high on the main mast, the FuturEnergy 1KW turbine is reportedly unaffected by the ferocity of the freezing winds blasting the ship and throughout has provided a consistent and reliable source of zero emissions electricity. This is used to supplement the vessel’s diesel-powered Whispergen co-generation system – its principal source of heat and power – and bank of eight 175W Shell photovoltaic solar cells.

The wind turbine’s energy contribution is proving even more valuable at a time when the efficiency of the solar cells has been reduced severely by the shortness of the Arctic day, currently totalling just five hours of daylight, and with diesel fuel in short supply due to the vessel’s extreme isolation.

So impressed is the leader of the expedition, French explorer Pierre Sauvadet, with the performance of the FuturEnergy that he plans to install a second unit.

‘I can’t praise the FuturEnergy wind turbine enough, particularly as we now rely upon it for survival and not just everyday power,’ said says Sauvadet. ‘It’s just great, the quality of the design and build is fantastic. It’s small but extremely powerful, silent and vibration-free, and boasts an almost perfect blade design.’