Polar Power Alaska: Page 3 of 7

Beginner

Inside this Article

The Systems at Ivotuk
The PV array & wind generator at the camp.
Ivotuk base camp
The Ivotuk base camp with fresh snow on the mountains.
Checking the array angle
The author demonstrates that the PV tilt angle is to spec.
Balance of system
The Proven and the OutBack controllers regulate wind and PV charging.
The battery bank
The battery bank is made up of 24 industrial-quality, 2-volt cells.
Tower raising
The 155-pound Proven wind turbine and its 20-foot tower were raised into place with a rope-and-pulley system.
Tower up
The author standing proudly in front of the installed turbine.
The Systems at Ivotuk
Ivotuk base camp
Checking the array angle
Balance of system
The battery bank
Tower raising
Tower up

energy (RE) input.

The Plan

During my three-week stay at Ivotuk the first season, I noted that although the weather was often overcast, there was actually a fair bit of solar energy available. Also, the wind blew fairly consistently. I looked into it more and determined that while this was not a great site for renewable energy, there was enough to make the case for augmenting the system with a wind turbine and some PV.

My trip report stated my concerns about system longevity, and recommended the installation of a wind/PV hybrid system to augment the existing diesel generator/battery system. By this time, deterioration in the performance of the system was fairly obvious, and the proposal received NSF approval.

The Equipment

Due to the environmental conditions at the site (common to much of interior Alaska), wind power was chosen as the primary renewable energy source. Unlike the lower 48 states, much of Alaska remains a mystery in terms of what RE resources are available. Fortunately, another research group had good wind records for this site that allowed me to determine that it was adequate to produce sufficient output to support the electrical loads much of the time.

Through various sources, including the pages of Home Power magazine, Proven wind turbines had come to my attention. This is a very robust turbine built in Scotland, known to have superior ability to stand up to severe icing conditions. Further, they can continue to put out close to full power right up to the rated survival wind speed of 155 mph (70 m/s)! Here was a turbine that looked like it could survive the ravages of the environment. I decided that having the turbine survive the Alaskan winters was the highest priority, and set about finding an appropriate vendor.

Fortunately, Greg Egan of Remote Power Inc. is located right in Fairbanks, and is the dealer for Proven in interior Alaska. Greg is also a licensed electrician, and has a lot of experience with installing systems in remote locations. Since my deployment to Ivotuk would have me performing a lot of functions aside from the RE installation, I asked Greg to join the team. Greg was intimately involved with all of the renewable energy aspects of this project, and really brought a lot to the table. Greg was on site for a significant part of the RE installation and did most of the wiring of the system and controls.

I decided that the addition of PV was also cost effective to this project, and Greg recommended using Evergreen PV panels. I had long been interested in this manufacturer, due to the innovative String Ribbon manufacturing process they use. It seemed quite serendipitous that Greg was also a dealer for Evergreen. I decided that four, 110-watt panels would make an adequately sized array for the project. The 440-watt PV array should be able to carry the system loads for much of the summer.

A tracking array was considered, but rejected due to reliability concerns in this extreme environment. The panels are mounted in a vertical orientation on

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