Father and son plan to trek to South Pole on renewable technology

A fine day in Antarctica [image credit: BBC]

We’re told: ‘Environmental champion, who was first person to walk to both poles, uses Antarctic trek as green wake-up call.’ But who really needs to be woken up? The polar night means Antarctica is a dead zone for solar power for six months of every year, highlighting the fact that part-time sources of electricity can never be relied upon.

“Thirty years ago, I was the first person in history perhaps stupid enough to walk to the North and South Poles,” renowned British explorer Robert Swan, 61, tells IBTimes UK.

“I had no intention ever in my life of ever walking anywhere cold again – this was definite.”

But that is exactly what he is going to do.

The two trips took a heavy physical toll, leaving him with smashed-up knees and hips and eye damage because of harmful radiation passing through the hole in the ozone layer above Antarctica.

Despite this, Swan is embarking on another adventure to the southernmost continent – this time accompanied by his son Barney, 23 – in what is planned as the world’s first polar expedition powered entirely by renewables.

What could have convinced Swan to undertake an eight-week trek through Antarctica, one of the harshest environments on Earth, at the age of 61?

“Barney persuaded me – much against my will at the time, I might say – that we really should make an effort to inspire people, especially young people, on the whole issue of their energy use – how are they using energy, how are they thinking about energy.

“And he convinced me that the best way of doing that was to walk 600 miles to the geographic South Pole in a matter of days. As we all know, over the last few years, climate change and the issue of sustainability has suddenly risen up.”

Their South Pole Energy Challenge is designed to showcase the power of renewables.

“Increasing the use of renewable sources of energy is essential to reducing CO2 emissions,” Swan says. “By putting these clean energies to the test in Antarctica, Barney and I want to prove that they can be developed for use anywhere and therefore play a crucial part in helping the planet transition to a lower-carbon future.”

During this initial voyage, he relied on jet fuel to cook his food, melt ice into drinking water and keep him warm in temperatures of -40C.

Now the expedition team, which includes guide Martin Bennett and filmmaker Kyle O’Donoghue, will be utilising state-of-the-art renewable technologies designed to ensure that the trip is carbon neutral.

Nasa-designed, solar-powered ice melters, which will one-day be used on Mars, will provide them with drinking water on sunny days, while solar-charged lithium batteries will power all their devices. But as Swan points out, there aren’t too many sunny days when you’re walking to the South Pole.

“On many days in Antarctica I couldn’t see you so the other renewable energies aren’t going to work all the time,” he explains.

“So Barney and I will be relying on advanced biofuels to keep us warm and keep us fed on those tough days.” These biofuels are made from various kinds of waste biomass and have been designed to operate in temperatures as low as -60°C.

Continued here.

via Tallbloke’s Talkshop


November 30, 2017 at 03:09AM

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