Green wind blows into Antarctica

A SMALL part of Antarctica turned green yesterday as the continent's biggest wind farm, which can generate enough electricity to power 500 homes, was formally switched on.

The joint New Zealand-US project's three huge turbines will provide 11 per cent of the power needed to run the two nations' science bases on the Ross Sea coast, cutting greenhouse gas output, lowering fossil fuel use and reducing the risk of fuel spillage, officials said.

The $11 million (6.8m) wind farm is on Crater Hill, half way between the US's McMurdo Station and New Zealand's nearby Scott Base. While the turbines have been operating well since December, the switch-on ceremony took place yesterday.

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The farm has a power output of about one megawatt and could cut annual diesel use at the bases by 120,000 gallons and reduce annual CO2 output by 1,370 tons, said Alan Seay, spokesman for New Zealand's Meridian Energy, which installed the turbines.