Report on the use of energy units in extreme environments

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D3.1 Report on the use of energy units in extreme environments
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Project ENVRIplus
Deliverable nr D3.1
Type Report

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The ENVRI community (Environmental and Earth System Research Infrastructures) covers multiple scientific domains, such as oceanography, atmosphere, geophysics and biology. Whilst very different in terms of scope and technology, the research infrastructures and their personnel face common technical challenges related to the fact that field equipment is often installed in remote sites. Specifically, a large proportion of field equipment needs to be autonomous and sometimes operates in extreme conditions.

Theme 1, “Technical innovation”, aims to provide and improve the technology used by environmental RIs by developing internal cooperation synergy and by collaborating with the industries that propose solutions for RIs. WP3, “Improving measurement networks: common technological solutions”, is focused on energy issues (WP3.1: Enhancing observation capacity in remote sites: improving energy production) and data transmission (WP3.3: Robust data provision: data transmission and near real time QC) in extreme environments (WP3.2: Testing robustness towards extreme conditions).

This report deals with the work for WP3.1, which was conducted between 2015 and 2018, as a collaborative project involving CNRS EPOS, ANAEE and ACTRIS.

The main questions for Task 3.1 were:

  • What is needed to provide energy to isolated scientific stations?
  • What are the most sustainable technical solutions regarding the specific needs of RIs?
  • What do RIs actually use?
  • How to improve RI use of these systems?

The report gathers information on energy production and storage using land-based instruments. It contains advice for potential non-specialist users, with technical abstracts and data sheets on each technology. The report is the main outcome of Task 3.1, and is attached as ANNEX I.

This deliverable has also benefitted from interaction with other ENVRI+ partners, and IFREMER’s contribution concerning energy solutions in marine environments, which can be found in ANNEX II.

The report in ANNEX I is composed of five main chapters:

Chapter A: General knowledge on energy for isolated stations

This chapter describes the “minimum knowledge” concerning energy for isolated stations: photovoltaic solar panels, small wind turbines, hydro-turbines and fuel cells for production, batteries (lead-acid, lithium and others) for storage, power regulation and management.

Chapter B: A catalogue of isolated, operational stations

This chapter presents a summary of an ENVRI+ wide survey (conducted in collaboration with WP3.2 and WP3.3) on “Who is using what?” in terms of energy and data transmissions in extreme environments.

Chapter C: Energy production system evaluations

Following the ENVRI+ WP3 survey on energy for isolated stations, this chapter presents tests conducted the most commonly used power production solutions (i.e. photovoltaic, wind turbines and regulation systems). These were evaluated in extreme conditions: cold, snow and strong winds.

The Joseph Fourier alpine station research site (at an altitude of 2,100m, managed by ENVRI SAJF- ANAEE), in the heart of the French Alps, was chosen for this purpose. A sustainable research facility was set up (CNRS ISTerre - EPOS and SAJF - ANAEE), offering all the logistics (access, energy and communication) required for technical tests as well as scientific measurements.

Chapter D: Energy storage system evaluations

Energy storage is another critical issue for autonomous scientific equipment in the field.

Using the IGE-ACTRIS laboratory facility (a climate chamber allowing cooling to -70°C), the energy storage system most commonly used throughout ENVRI+ RIs, the lead-acid VRLA battery, was tested in a controlled cold environment. Several tests were carried out to test potential technical improvements and better management of the equipment with a view to improving the performance of this type of equipment in cold conditions.

Chapter E: Technical summary

Finally, all previous knowledge was summarised into an A4 recto-verso “ready-to-print” format enabling easy use for fieldwork or in laboratory conditions. This part of the report is intended to offer practical advice for non-specialist technical and scientific staff installing isolated scientific stations.

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