Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant or accept liability for the accuracy or usefulness of the transcripts. These are copied directly from the broadcaster's website.
Mawson Hut restorers get wind of power plan -

View in ParlViewView other Segments

Mawson Hut restorers get wind of power plan

Felicity Ogilvie reported this story on Tuesday, June 23, 2009 12:50:00

Commonwealth Bay in Antarctica is one of the world's most windy places. It's also where Sir Douglas
Mawson built his hut. Now the team restoring the hut has hatched a plan to get energy from
wind-powered generators.

PETER CAVE: In 1912, Sir Douglas Mawson built a hut in Antarctica in place that's one of the
windiest in the world.

Now the team restoring his hut are putting a wind generator in at the site.

The plan is to turn the hurricane force winds that have almost destroyed the hut into a power
source that can be used to restore them.

But will the wind blow the generator away?

Felicity Ogilvie reports from Hobart

FELICITY OGILVIE: When Sir Douglas Mawson led Australia's first expedition to Antarctica he thought
Cape Denison looked like a perfect place to build a hut.

The ship pulled into an ice free bay and it was a sunny calm day.

It's only after the ship left Commonwealth Bay that Sir Douglas Mawson discovered the reason why
there was no ice in the bay.

(Sound of wind blowing)

Hurricane force winds blew the ice out to sea and bore down on the hut with such force it almost
blew away.

He describes the experience is his book - aptly called The Home of the Blizzard.

EXCERPT FROM BOOK (voiceover): Picture drifts so dense that daylight comes through dully, though,
maybe, the sun shines in a cloudless sky; the drift is hurled, screaming through space at a hundred
miles an hour, and the temperature is below zero, Fahrenheit. You have then the bare, rough facts
concerning the worst blizzards of Adelie Land.

FELICITY OGILVIE: A group called the Mawson's Huts Foundation is restoring the hut.

The foundation's chairman, David Jensen, is planning to turn the wind to their advantage by
installing a wind powered generator.

DAVID JENSEN: We have accommodation headquarters so we need power for lighting. We need power for
the power tools that we have to use in the conservation of the site, so that includes chainsaws we
have to use to help remove the ice. We've got communications we need to power.

FELICITY OGILVIE: What about power for heating? It is Antarctica.

DAVID JENSEN: Yeah, we need that also and that's important. It seldom gets above zero when our team
is down there, even during the summer, and we've got to keep them nice and warm and snug and fit
for the work they do.

FELICITY OGILVIE: The average wind speed at the hut is 70 kilometres an hour. Hurricane force winds
have been measured at more than 300 kilometres an hour.

Neil Adams is the Antarctic weather specialist at the Bureau of Meteorology in Hobart.

NEIL ADAMS: Cape Denison, where the Mawson's Hut is located, is actually sort of the windiest place
on the surface of the planet according to our meteorological records. Very strong catabatic flow
down across Mawson's Hut, you know very strong average winds and very high gusts, you know, gusts
up over 300 kilometres an hour at times and the long term mean is around 70 kilometres an hour.

So a lot of wind so that might sound good for a wind generator but from my experience, when we have
actually put wind generators in Antarctica at certain locations, there are real problems with them
being blown, you know, that the wind actually destroying them. There's too much wind.

FELICITY OGILVIE: David Jensen says he's going to make sure the wind generator is sturdy and he
won't be leaving it down in Antarctica during winter.

DAVID JENSEN: There are some units in the States we are looking for. I haven't been able to find
one in Australia yet but I would very much like to but it's one that we could put up and dismantle
very quickly so that if the wind strengths while we are down there get too strong, we can just take
it down but we believe they're around it.

We don't need a large one. About the same size as they use on the back of yachts would suffice.
They generate quite a bit of power.

FELICITY OGILVIE: One thing is for certain - there'll be plenty of wind to power the generator.

PETER CAVE: Felicity Ogilvie reporting.