For the unmanned hydropower plant buried underneath Greenland’s ice cap and a layer of permafrost, the plant’s turbines are 200 meters below the surface and are connected to the meltwater lake that feeds them by a tunnel blasted through the permafrost. The water has to flow constantly so that it doesn’t freeze. The location and the conditions were our biggest challenge.
The glaciers and the meltwater lake look majestic, but it’s a harsh environment. The power plant is well within the Arctic circle, 50 kilometers from Ilulissat, which itself is a small community of just 4,500 people. In good weather you can reach the plant by helicopter all year round. In summer you can also travel there by sea, and in winter, when the sea is frozen, by snow-scooter.
The power plant is so hard to reach that the plan is not to have to go there at all. The power plant will be manned during the first year, but it’s to be fully automated after that. Hundreds of sensors and seven cameras will record data which an operator will be able to monitor and control through ABB’s control system from the comfort of Ilulissat.
Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald