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article imageSouth Pole expedition to be ultimate test of renewable energy

By Karen Graham     Oct 30, 2017 in Environment
On 15 November 2017, Robert Swan, OBE, 61, is embarking on an expedition to Antarctica with his son Barney, 23, one of a new generation of explorers. Their expedition will be the first polar expedition powered solely by renewable energy sources.
The elder Swan is the first person in history to walk to both the North and South Poles. This time, Swan is making a return trip to the South Pole with his son, Barney, in a challenge and demonstration of their faith in clean energy resources in one of the most hostile regions on the planet.
Antarctica is home to more than 10 000 unique species  including seals and colossal squid
Antarctica is home to more than 10,000 unique species, including seals and colossal squid
Eitan Abramovich, AFP/File
Swan is an advocate for the protection of Antarctica and renewable energy and is also the founder of 2041, a company which is dedicated to the preservation of the Antarctic. and the author, along with Gil Reavill of Antarctica 2041: My Quest to Save the Earth's Last Wilderness.
The eight-week journey, called the South Pole Energy Challenge (SPEC), will be the world's first polar expedition powered solely by renewable energy sources, including solar, wind technology and advanced biofuels made out of woodchip waste provided by Shell.
Demonstration of renewable technologies
The world has seen a number of demonstrations of renewable energy technologies in recent years, from automobiles to boats and ships, and solar panels withstanding ravaging hurricanes, but Antarctica is an icebound continent unto itself. With its subzero temperatures, high altitudes and quickly changing weather conditions, it is the most hostile environment on Earth.
Efforts to create marine sanctuaries in Antarctica have been shot down five times at annual Commissi...
Efforts to create marine sanctuaries in Antarctica have been shot down five times at annual Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources meetings
For humans in this environment, there are the constant dangers of frostbite and hypothermia. Then there is the almost constant toll on the human body, including respiratory distress and a depressed immune system caused by the environmental stress. For this reason, the reliance on renewable energy sources won't be just a demonstration of the technologies - but a demonstration, based on faith in the technologies.
By using their renewable sources of energy, Robert and Barney will be able to power their cooking stove and keep warm in temperatures as low as minus 40°C, as they cover 600 miles through some of the most inhospitable terrains on Earth. The advanced Shell biofuels the father-son team will use will rely on was developed specifically for this expedition at the Shell Technology Centre in Bangalore, India.
Vicky Boiten-Lee, Shell's Global General Manager Retail Fuels said, "Shell recognizes that biofuels along with other renewable energy sources will be important to the world of tomorrow. The advanced biofuels that Robert and Barney will be using will be critical in keeping them warm, dry and fed during this epic expedition."
There is no silver bullet for managing climate change
The expedition is made up of Swan, his son, Barney, who will be expedition leader, expedition guide Martin Barnett, and documentary filmmaker Kyle O'Donoghue. Their equipment will include man-hauled sledges, along with wind technology to power their electronics, solar panels to melt snow for drinking water, and Shell's advanced biofuel made from wood chips for cooking and heating.
A long trek made by Robert Swan to the South Pole.
A long trek made by Robert Swan to the South Pole.
2041 Climate Force
"There is no silver bullet solution to managing the challenges of climate change," says the senior Swab, "and we must meet this challenge through collaboration amongst all players in society – governments, entrepreneurs, and industry – to provide a mixture of cleaner energy solutions as we work towards a low carbon future."
"Increasing the use of renewable sources of energy is essential to reducing CO2 emissions. By putting these clean energies to the test in Antarctica, the Earth's harshest wilderness, 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."
Readers can follow Robert and Barney's journey by visiting from the beginning of November.
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