WELLINGTON - The world's southernmost wind farm has been opened in Antarctica, the first in what could be a number of renewable energy projects aimed to lower the frozen continent's reliance on diesel for power.

The construction of the three-turbine Ross Island wind farm was a huge challenge in an environment where the temperature can fall as low as -57 degrees Celsius.

The wind farm will supply about 11 percent of the power to New Zealand's Scott Base and the American McMurdo Station, and will cut diesel consumption by about 463,000 liters per year.

If the wind farm proves a success it could be followed by others, with solar generation also being evaluated for potential use, said Scott Bennett, project manager with Meridian Energy, the state-owned New Zealand power company which built and runs the turbines.

The philosophy is to get this one up and running, get it operating for a year and it can show us the way forward, Bennett said.