Hybrid energy module for remote environmental observations, experiments, and communications

TitleHybrid energy module for remote environmental observations, experiments, and communications
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsKrassovski, MB, JS Riggs, C Tavino, SD Wullschleger, and SL Heinz
JournalAdvances in Polar Science

Increased concerns about climate change have led to a significant expansion of monitoring, observational, and experimental sites in remote areas of the world. Meanwhile, advances in technology and availability of low-power equipment have allowed increasingly sophisticated measurements with a wide variety of instruments. However, the deployment and use of these technologies in remote locations is often restricted not only by harsh environmental conditions, but also by the availability of electrical power and communication options. In some cases, research stations and military installations can provide power for scientific equipment, data acquisition, storage, and transmission. Clustering of research sites near existing infrastructure has had the unintended consequence of limiting a spatial understanding of large geographic regions. Fortunately, the modern market offers many power and communication solutions, but most of them are oriented toward large industrial applications. Use of those solutions to power a research site is limited because of their cost and need for significant modification for the specific research purposes. Each study has its own unique power requirements and needs for proper instrumentation. A power and communication solution for a vast majority of implementations with or without modification would be of considerable benefit. This article describes design of a universal, scalable hybrid energy module for the Next-Generation Ecosystem Experiments Arctic project (https://ngee-arctic.ornl.gov/). Two modules were built, and the authors describe their implementation and findings over a 2-year period at a remote field site on the Seward Peninsula in western Alaska, USA.