11 March. Polar Power Group

Attending Bob, Jack, Tracy
Dahl, Dave Smith, Martin Lewis, Jay Burnside Jen, Renee, Randy,
probably several more (definitely not on the call, Zoe, John,
Pat, Dick)

Primary focus of the call was to try to define areas of
agreement regarding an operational model for Isi.

Seems that we need to define a minimalist baseline in terms of
winter population, power demand, amount and types of inside
heated space that will be the core of Isi station and feed power
to AWO and the BH over at Summit.

Design of this core needs to be flexible to some extent, at
least able to handle increased summer time populations (probably
not berthing, but other essential life support functions), and
some amount of increased power in response to changing science

It is anticipated that large projects that demand more power than
the core can provide, and/or need to increase winter population
beyond space available in the core station will need to “provide”
the extra resources needed to support their work. Not yet clear
what is meant by having such groups provide their own resources.
It could mean that they need to provide funds (to RSL or CPS) to
procure infrastructure and supplies, with CPS designing and
operating the systems. Or, in some cases the group might be
responsible for designing/procuring and even operating their
required systems (for this group, a cogent example could be a
separate power system dedicated to the GLT and its control

Group seemed to favor CPS retaining control/responsibility for
infrastructure at Isi, based on the idea that a well designed
scaleable power grid would probably be more efficient over the
long run, thus more sustainable for RSL and future partners.
Difficult issue will be figuring out the accounting, especially
capital costs. We also noted that a single power grid, with most
components incorporated into the elevated core station, would
probably result in significant reduction in O&M costs over life
span of the station.

Lots of ideas, and also potential complications, were aired. So
far it does not seem that many decisions were reached, but we
likely identified a number of questions that need to be discussed
at the charrette.

Last 5 minutes of the call, switched to discuss the medium
voltage power cable back to Summit from Isi. Tracy wanted to
clarify whether the USAP model of maintaining access ports to
inspect the cable, and also to hold strain relief loops, would
work, or was necessary at Summit. His idea is to just direct bury
the cable. Not clear any trenching is needed. Randy suggested
that since it seems that RSL has agreed that if the cable can be
procured, shipped, and installed for < $0.5M, and the ROM for
current CPS plan is well under that cap, we should assume the
cable is in the plan and worry about details of the installation

25 Feb. SCO power/energy group

Present: Not sure just now. (I arrived 3 minutes late)
Tracy leads.
1) Affect grant proposals are IN. The two that made the cut are the
RAPID module and the micro turbine for Thule. Notification in
April, awards in June. Well done all.
2) Summit/ISI planning. Have general agreement about the grid
concept (inverter based), and also about the transmission line.
Jay points out that we need to consider the costs as well, want to
avoid getting into the plan where there isn’t an inexpensive
option; the “do-nothing” approach for example being to put a 200 kw
gen up there and run it for 20 years (or, as Jack suggests, several
50 KW gens. Don’t want to design something that NSF can’t afford.
Some discussion about how much detail we need to go into for this
kind of scenario, maybe not super-fine grained.
Estimates for the transmission line: 5kV line. $426k.
Significantly higher than earlier projected. This estimate
includes everything- transformers, cable (multiple reels), labor to
trench it in, etc. Assumes cargo transported by GRIT. Includes
transport costs to get it to Norfolk. Many members of the call
want to see what’s behind the numbers. Now on to some discussion
of the strain possibilities in the snow. Noted that the N-S
orientation of the cable is very good, the maximum strain being an
E-W direction. There will also be extra cable spooled up on either
end so that as buildings get jacked up there’d be scope for that.
Greg will look for strain data on the cable. Dick was thinking
that we would use the S Pole model, Tracy points out that
accumulation at Summit will bury the cable very deeply very fast.
More inquiry will be made into the S Pole system.
Now discussion of the storage requirements for periods of
autonomy. possibilities of using capacitors in addition to
deep-cycle batteries, many types of storage available. Tracy
looking for input on these parameters.
Larger discussion of cost/benefit of the renewable energy options
vs a lot of diesel fuel.
Next call- March 11.


11 Feb. SCO power/energy group

Present: Tracy, Jay, Jack, Bob, Dave, Renee, Jen, 2 others.
Tracy leads.
– DOE AFFECT grant proposals. CPS is in good shape for getting the
proposal ready and in. Letters of support are in for RAPID
proposal. Tracy notes this will be not only a power system but also
a communications system, so SRI is an appropriate partner. Tracy is
on target to deliver on schedule. Jack points out that there is no
detailed description of the budget and/or NSF cost sharing, which he
reads as a critical link. The new proposal shows a breakdown, and
the NSF commitment is implicit. Tracy reminds Renee that an agency
(NSF) letter of commitment is a hard requirement for the proposal.
There is some discussion of combining micro-turbine proposals
between the Antarctic and Arctic. There was a waste-to-energy plan
for the Antarctic program, but it sounds like there is not enough
waste to justify the investment (aside). CPS is working on a
life-cycle cost analysis for the CHP proposal. Jen is currently
custodian of the proposal. There is a need for getting the numbers
into the proposal.
– Summit/ISI Grid concept- Tracy asks for comments on the conceptual
drawings, no comments. Next looking for consensus on system
definitions. Looking at 4160 or 15 kV as the line level for the
power line from ISI to Summit. Cable costs have come in, and are
dramatically lower than what we thought earlier. Somewhere around
$30k. This makes it sound quite reasonable for running such a
line. Sounds like it’s looking more like 4160V as it’s more
accessible. Tracy asks SCO if it is pretty reasonable to eliminate
the “manholes” that they used at South Pole. Bob points out that
there are horizontal strain (divergence) data for the Summit area,
and so we should be able to calculate what kind of strain a cable
would have to withstand for a lifetime of 30 years. Question of the
period of autonomy- how much storage? And also looking at the
different battery technologies.
– Other agenda items. requests for new agenda items?
– Jack asks if Fuel cells are any part of the picture for Summit.
Sounds like it may be a challenge “a little risky”. Jack points out
that we need to be pushing the envelope and take leadership on
showing that these things can be done. Not betting the station on
it or anything, but getting things started.
– Tracy has tried to get NREL back in with the group, to no avail.

28 January Power and Energy Group

Primary topic of discussion was dealing with many issues associated with the two proposals going into the DOE AFFECT competition. Tracy and Dick both making progress on some parts of the package, but both stressed that they need a range of specific technical help. This help ranges from better data to drive some of the required analyses, to copy editing and clarification of some of the detailed requirements in the FOA from DOE. Jack offered to carefully read the FOA and attempt to distill it down to essentials (rather than 36 page document).

CPS has identified resources across CH2MHill that could be brought in for some of this effort, pending approval for any additional expense from RSL. The deadline is drawing near, but it seems both proposals stand a good chance of being complete on time.

14 Jan 2014 Power Energy telecon

Present; Dibb, Bollinger, Smith, Burnside, Armstrong, Olsen, Mercer, Dahl, Lussier, Kenney (possibly one or two more)

Started with updates on the 2 proposals being prepared for DOE AFFECT. Tracy has started on the narrative for RAPID, said he is going to need technical help with cost estimation, pay back, and especially Life Cycle Analysis. Dick called in from Antarctica, said that he is expecting a lot of cost info and details about multiple configurations of 1, 2, or 3 micro turbines of different sizes in different modules. Dick is especially going to need help, since he is busy down on the ice and will be more or less out of contact the last week or so before the deadline.

Both of these guys expressed need for details about the specified format of the package that DOE wants to see, apparently no one except the PI can actually access the web site where proposals will be uploaded. Renee started the process, Randy and Jen said they would contact her to get the details and share forms and templates with the proposal teams. Jen also specifically stepped up to help Dick convert material he gathers into the format DOE requires.

We had a lot of discussion about the micro turbine proposal; one application will probably be at Toolik to provide power and heat to the dining facility (possibly also nearby dorms) and the second big application will be to provide stand alone power and heat to GLT in Thule. Plan is to then move the power system to Isi with the telescope.

This brought up the imperative to conduct a pilot study at Summit to establish that the micro turbines will work in those conditions (cold, thin air, etc.). Ideally, this study would happen in support of some real project, and would occur before a larger system is designed and procured for the GLT in Thule. Brief rehash about how the IDDO intermediate drill test would have been a good demonstration project. Broke off since that is no longer an option, Jack suggested that a dual 30 kw micro turbine module could be deployed to Summit and wired into TAWO and MSF to see if it could handle AWO and the BH in the future. If it worked, could be the on-demand power source for the anticipated high RE penetration hybrid power system for the Observatory (after every thing else moved to Isi). Tracy pointed out that he thought an old style diesel genset module would be more efficient, since the observatory will not be able to use all of the waste heat from micro turbines. Tracy and Dick do not presently agree about the relative efficiency of standard diesel versus micro turbines when the main load is electricity rather than combined power and heat. They will share sources and try to inform all of us about the tradeoffs in future discussions.

Started what will be a long term focus of this group: How will the power grid at Isi/Summit Observatory look when it is in place? Tracy laid out his broad brush vision to start the discussion. Key points: 1) must be scaleable, probably starting with a central system to support the core station (much like Model 5), 2) large, but finite duration, projects that came to Isi would need to include their own power generation, but it should be easy to tie into the grid (for stability and redundancy); it was pointed out that this is the current road map for GLT since they need power in Thule (separate from AF grid) that system should be available to move to Isi with the telescope, 3) Tracy suggests that the grid at Isi should be inverter based, to allow plug and play compatibility with RE from wind and PV, and a range of different sizes and types of generators.

We discussed whether power system for the central system needs to be as large as in model 5, since that was planned to support station core and also AWO. If the power line between Isi and Summit is no longer planned, the base load for Isi should be ~ 30 kw less than envisioned for model 5, but a separate system will be needed to provide that at Summit observatory. This got us back to the debate between reciprocating diesel versus micro turbine as the “on demand” source at the observatory, and then into a discussion of whether the idea of feeding power to the observatory from Isi was truly dead. Key point is that Tracy believes that whatever on-demand source is deployed to the observatory will probably need to run at least 4 hours on most days (i.e., the notion of having enough storage to run with no RE and no generator for 3-4 days is cost prohibitive). This need would almost definitely jeopardize “clean snow”, while having all fossil fuel power sources 5 km away at Isi would greatly reduce impacts of emissions on snow near AWO. Tracy and Dick both stated that the cost of the cable should be in the several $100k range, not $millions and that direct snow burial of the cable should be low cost and reliable (lots of experience at Pole).

 As noted, this topic will occupy us for months or longer, but to wrap up the call today Jay and Tracy tried to see if we had reached agreement on any aspects of the Isi grid. It appears that we all are behind the scaleable architecture, probably based on inverters. And we all agree that connecting Summit Observatory to Isi has enormous benefits, if the cost of the cable is truly not so prohibitive as it appeared to be when that cable disappeared from the plans. CPS is going to review the earlier documentation on tradeoffs between transmission voltage, cable size, and cost so that it can be determined whether Summit will have one grid, or two.

19 Nov 2013 Power/Energy kickoff meeting

The discussion focused on a subset of power-related systems currently under development as part of Isi/Summit future plans that might be germane for an upcoming DOE AFFECT request for proposals.  The DOE AFFECT program seeks to fund renewable power sources in federal facilities,that could also be broadly applicable to other federal facilities.  As part of new Isi/Summit developments, several renewable power sources are being examined that have the potential to meet this RFP.  There is some concern that many of the power systems that would be developed for Isi/Summit would be polar-centric and not as relevant to the DOE program, however, two potential systems were identified that have the possibility for use in other remote environments, one being S-CUBE, which are stand-alone, small, portable, well-insulated structures which would provide modular berthing and possibly office space, and RAPID, an all-in-one renewable energy unit which is comprised of a complete hybrid power system housed in a standard ISO container, capable of being built in the US and then shipped where needed.  It was decided to submit two letters of intent for the Dec 10 deadline.  Other discussions included the desire to keep this meeting to a small working group.