IRIS/PASSCAL have been funded by the NSF to develop and test robust, scalable power and communication systems that can operate for several years in severe polar environments (read Antarctica). You can read more about the project here: Polar Permanent Stations MRI Project: Year 1 Field Season
Tests of these systems are have been under way since February 2007, at South Pole and McMurdo research stations, and the Year 1 Midseason Report, dated March 19th, 2007, is available for download (in pdf). This report gives details on the choice of primary power source (lithium thionyl cholride batteries), the method of switching from primary to auxiliary (solar) power, and the insulating enclosures which permit the electronics to work despite the severe temperature of the Antarctic.
Keep up to date with the latest developments at http://sismordia.blogspot.com