Three experts in the use of renewable energy who were visiting the Falkland Islands this week as the guests of the Falkland Islands Government declared themselves surprised by extent of the efforts made in the Islands to reduce dependence on fossil fuels.
Energy consultant, Sergio Versalovic, who until recently was the Senior Analyst at the Chilean Centre for Renewable Energy in Santiago and is now involved in an alternative power project in the Western Isles of Scotland, said that the group’s preconceptions about what they would find in the Falklands had been shattered.
It was obvious that in the Falklands great strides had been made in overcoming the problems of isolation and distance, which were also very common in many parts of Southern Chile.
Professor of Thermodynamics, Fluid Mechanics, Solar Energy and Heat Transfer at the University of Magallannes (UMAG) in Punta Arenas, Humberto Vidal, who has led many investigations into the use of different kinds of alternative energy and is a regular member of the International Solar Energy Society, echoed Mr Versalovic’s sentiments; the practical and successful approach to the use of wind power in the Falklands had impressed the group particularly. Professor Vidal hoped that a flow of information between the Falklands and institutions like his own could develop to the mutual benefit of both countries.
An important feature of the Chilean visitor’s week was a visit to the Stanley Power Station, followed by a tour of the Sandy Bay wind farm. With six turbines this now supplies an average of 40% of Stanley’s power requirements. Of particular interest to the group was the explanation by the Power Superintendent, Glenn Ross of the management system which allows a constant and balanced power output to be achieved, despite the extreme and rapid variations in wind speed and direction experienced in the Islands.
An equally successful wind power scheme to give affordable twenty-four hour to farms in remote locations has been running in the Islands for over ten years. Originally a Falkland Islands Development Board (FIDC) project, the visitors heard a description of the financial assistance to purchase the necessary equipment available to farmers from Michael Betts of FIDC and then, on a separate occasion, had a very useful meeting with former FIDC renewable energy guru, Tim Cotter, who outlined the scheme’s history and was able to give a full account of the technical difficulties encountered and how they had been overcome.
Following Mr Cotter’s presentation, the third member of the Chilean group, Rafael Burgos, who is the Environmental and Sustainability Manager for Santiago-based Poch SA, said that, like his colleagues, he had been amazed by how much knowledge they had encountered during their visit.
While in the Falklands the Chilean visitors, who leave on Saturday, 14, have visited rural settlements and had meetings with the directors of the Falkland Islands Government Departments of Mineral Resources and Public Works. They also met with the Planning Department’s Environmental Officer and FIDC’s General Manager.
John Fowler, MercoPress, Stanley.