Stäubli connectors assist in Antarctic solar power project
Published: 17 February 2020 - Carly Wills
Uruguay's Artigas Base in Antarctica is home to ten research scientists and 15 crew members in summer. The scientific research station was traditionally powered by diesel generators, but besides the environmental impact, the logistics involved made the use of fossil fuels an inefficient and costly method for power generation.
The Uruguayan government selected Technova Renovables to review the potential and to lead on the integration of renewables at the base. The project included the delivery and installation of a pioneering solar system that had to withstand the environmental challenges within this delicate ecosystem.
With temperatures as low as -90°C, winds of more than 200 km/h and a marine saline environment, the challenge was to develop, install and test the performance of PV technology in such harsh conditions.
It was decided to build a 1.2kW pilot plant. Both the extreme temperatures and the variation in hours of sunlight throughout the year had to be considered for the installation of the PV system.
The solar panels were mounted vertically on the north facing wall of an existing machine room and at a significant height to avoid heavy accumulations of snow over the winter. To provide dependable power feed-in, industry leading MC4-Evo2 connectors from Stäubli Electrical Connectors were chosen to connect the panels.
According to Marcelo Mula, executive director of Tecnogroup, said: "Knowing that you are working with experts in their field is crucial for the successful implementation of PV projects. We have been working with Stäubli for many years and rely on their high-quality connectors to ensure a safe and reliable connection as well as steady energy feed-in."
MC4-Evo2 connectors are designed for extreme environments with their resistance to UV and salt-mist spray and their high IP68 rating. Their performance is due to their use of MULTILAM technology, a proprietary contact system from Stäubli that uses torsion spring contact elements to produce multiple contact points and ensure high reliability and low contact resistance.
Contributing to the success of the project allowed the connectors to demonstrate their high reliability even in the most demanding of conditions.