Evaluation of Photovoltaic Panels
at the South Pole Station
CHRISTOPHER R. WILLIAMS AND JOHN RAND
In FY 1999, CRREL:
Provided monthly status reports.
The goal of this study was to procure commercially
Inspected the PV panels after the winter.
available photovoltaic (PV) panels of similar mechani-
Removed the PV panels from the ARO and
cal and electrical characteristics from four manufactur-
ers and to evaluate their structural survivability and elec-
returned them to CRREL.
Provided final report at the conclusion of the aus-
trical performance in the extreme harsh environment of
the South Pole. The PV panels were evaluated on the roof-
top of the newly constructed Atmospheric Research
ASA provided a technician to help remove the PV pan-
Observatory (ARO) at the South Pole Station.
els and monitoring equipment.
The evaluation plan developed in FY 1997 laid out
the following goals:
Compare the mechanical and electrical specifica-
CRREL and the Antarctica Support Association
(ASA) worked together to evaluate the panels. In Fiscal
tions of the selected commercially available PV
Year (FY) 1997, CRREL's tasks were as follows:
Develop evaluation criteria to determine the struc-
Identify and procure selected PV panels.
Inspect and evaluate PV panels at CRREL.
tural survivability of each PV panel.
Develop evaluation criteria to determine the elec-
Develop an evaluation plan and forward it for review.
trical performance of each PV panel.
Ship components for vessel delivery to McMurdo.
In addition, it detailed how the PV panels were to be
ASA's tasks were to incorporate the PV panels into the
mounted and gave the specifications for the data acqui-
new ARO building and review the evaluation plan.
sition system and data logger program.
In FY 1998, CRREL:
Inspected the PV panels at South Pole Station prior
to placement on the ARO building.
Set up monitoring equipment.
Provided monthly status reports during the austral
The evaluation platform was the four sides of the
new ARO building (Fig. 1) at the South Pole Station,
Provided a postseason report on the PV panel instal-
Antarctica. The PV panels from the four manufactur-
ers are approximately the same physical size and shape,
ASA assisted in mounting the PV panels to the new ARO
which facilitated easy comparison. In addition, the
building and running monitoring cables within the facil-
method of attachment to the exterior surface of the ARO
ity. They also provided a technician to assist in forward-
building allowed for easy installation, removal, and