Tidal Energy Resource Assessment for McMurdo Station, Antarctica
ENGINEER RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT CENTER HANOVER NH HANOVER United States
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The U.S. Antarctic Program USAP is interested in expanding renewable energy capabilities at McMurdo Station, Antarctica, to reduce costs and emissions. Previous assessments considered wind, solar, and geothermal energy resources but not ocean energy resources such as tidal energy. The National Science Foundation, Division of Polar Programs, Antarctic Infrastructure and Logistics, commissioned the Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory to assess the feasibility of a tidal energy system in the waters near McMurdo Station. This study used industry standards to assess relevant datasets, including bathymetry, tidal characteristics, meteorological, and icing data. Unfortunately, the available data was insufficient for full annual energy production estimates however, the data unanimously indicated that current speeds within Winter Quarters Bay and the adjacent McMurdo Sound are much too low for tidal energy generation. The maximum measured current speed was less than the typical cut-in speed for most tidal energy turbines. Additional challenges, including the recent declaration of the Ross Sea as a marine protected area and the need for high-strength infrastructures to withstand icing, make the McMurdo Station region a poor location for a tidal energy installation. USAP would likely fail to recoup the costs associated with such a system. Although tidal energy is not suitable for this case, this report presents a collated set of various tidal-related data for the McMurdo Station region, which may be of use to other studies.
- Physical and Dynamic Oceanography
- Electric Power Production and Distribution