Replacing the Batteries
One of our priorities this season was to replace the station's 192 batteries of the station, which store the energy produced by the solar panels and windmills. These new batteries will enhance the energy storage capacity of the station.
Heavy & Dangerous
Each battery weighs 85 kg. Every one of them had to be hauled out of the battery room and moved up several flights of stairs to the roof of the garages. There, they were securely packed and a crane was ready to bring them on the ice in front of the garages. The crane then brought the new batteries on the roof and we installed them in the battery room.
On top of being heavy, batteries are dangerous. If you have ever replaced your car battery, you know that there is acid in there. We had to take serious precautions during the whole operation to avoid any leakage that could have burned people.
Done in Two Days
Working with a team of 8 people, we managed to remove the old batteries and replace them with the new ones in just two days. Old batteries have been neatly tucked away in a container and will be taken back to Cape Town next year to be recycled.
Once the new batteries were installed, we had to test them for five hours straight. For security reasons, the whole station had to be evacuated during that initial test. We used it as an opportunity to test the emergency procedures everybody has to know at Princess Elisabeth. I must say people were very disciplined and everything went well.
The five hours battery test ran smoothly, without any hiccups of any kind. Had that test failed, we couldn't have powered the station during winter, which would have been a small catastrophe.
Picture: Replacing the batteries - © International Polar Foundation