There are a number of technology challenges to be addressed by any serious attempt to colonize Antarctica. This post aims to touch on only the power or electricity generation aspect.
In order for humans to survive in Antarctica we will need ample power. A system to generate more than is needed and store the surplus energy for peak demand times would be optimal. However, this is easier said than done. There are several options available. Although, if we are to adhere to Antarctica Treaty we will need a power solution that is green and pollution free. This rules out Nuclear, Coal and Oil.
Geothermal power would be a good option for an Antarctic colony. However, it has a number of drawbacks. A geothermal power plant's high initial cost (est. $20-30 million) and inability to scale being the main obstacles.
The benefits being a clean and constant flow of both power and heat should not be overlooked. For those reasons it should be researched and kept as an open option for further debate.
Harnessing the power of Antarctica's natural wind power would seem like an ideal solution, as Antarctica is the highest and windiest of the continents. Wind power much like geothermal also has it's drawbacks. These being a lack of power in low wind conditions, wind generators freezing up, and possible breakage and other equipment failure in the extreme Antarctic conditions.
Overcoming The Drawbacks Of Wind Power
With adaptations to present technology it may be possible to overcome the drawbacks of conventional wind power technology deployed in Antarctica.
Low wind conditions could be compensated by building wind generator platforms on multiple sites. When the wind is low in one location it will most likely still be blowing in another location. It may be as simple as spreading out wind generators over a large enough area to provide constant power flow.
Freezing up can be avoided or minimized by the installation of defrosters on the wind turbines themselves. Also, it may be necessary to occasionally send a maintenance crew to clear ice and snow from the generators and platforms.
Breakage and damage to the wind generators can be reduced or minimized by using VAWTs (vertical axis wind turbines) instead of conventional HAWTs (horizontal axis wind turbines). VAWTs, although, not as efficient at producing energy as HAWTs are far more durable, especially in high wind conditions that is prevalent in Antarctica. Also, the base of the VAWTs being on the ground makes maintenance much easier.
VAWTs are cheaper to build, install and maintain than HAWTs, which is yet another advantage. The downside being that they will have to be built in minimum groups of three, as the tops will need to be linked together for support. Otherwise a large and expensive support frame would need to be constructed for each wind turbine.
Of course many of you reading this may be curious as to why if VAWTs are so good, why are they not already being used widely? The answer is simple, HAWTs are far more efficient in low wind conditions. Also, HAWTs are usually built on towers that increase height, allowing access to higher wind speeds at higher elevations. This is simply not as much of an issue in the wind swept high elevation regions of Antarctica.
Another major hurdle to overcome will be storing the excess power generated. As any storage solution will need to be environmentally friendly. For that hydrogen gas would seem like an ideal choice. If the colony is located near the ocean, salt water can be drawn up into tanks and the extra electric power can be used to convert the water into hydrogen and oxygen gas. The hydrogen gas can then be compressed into tanks for storage and use. It could be used to power everything from vehicles to stoves to electric generators. This may well be the best viable option for a backup and power storage system.
Because of the vast temperature differentials present in Antarctica. This may be a golden opportunity to explore an alternative technology like the Stirling engine. The Stirling engines can run a motor or electric generator off of two plates, as long as a temperature difference exists between those two plates. The ocean water, the ground or even the ice itself and the surface air above could be used to run motors and create power with no other inputs.
These technologies describe here all exist today. More information on them can be found readily at sources like Wikipedia and others. All one needs to make them work as described is proper funding, a little ingenuity, some hard work, plus the drive and determination to get things done and this could become a reality.