RWE – Live from the Antarctic

20 octobre 2021 Pierre Perrin-Monlouis

RWE supports a renewable energy experiment

npower employees report from the E-Base

Green electricity is generated even in extreme conditions

The rain is pouring down and an icy wind is blowing. “Everything I have is wet and I am shivering cold,” writes Mark Nicol in his online diary. Heavy raindrops are falling on his protective helmet and his coat is now soaked through. Together with Russell Oliver and the other “adventurers”, he is trying to erect two wind turbines – in the middle of the Antarctic. The storm is making their work impossible. Time and again they try to put up the turbines. Time and again their efforts are thwarted by the wind and the rain.

A team of seven are building an information and education camp in the Antarctic which is to be powered exclusively by renewable energy technology provided by RWE npower renewables, the UK subsidiary of RWE Innogy. Among the team are Mark Nicol and Russell Oliver from RWE npower. Soon they will be joined by a third npower colleague, Nicola Young.

“Battling the Elements” is the title given to a series of pictures on the Internet site where you can follow their desperate attempts to erect the camp, Every day there is at least one new diary entry, a series of pictures or a video. The project in Antarctica is providing new findings about renewable energies. At the same time, the aim is to stimulate public discussion about the potential ways in which renewable energy sources can be used. npower renewables is providing the wind and solar facilities that are required for the experiment.

Storms hinder the start
After four stormy days they have finally managed it. The turbines are now standing and the first green electricity is flowing. “It is really quite simple. Without our turbines, we would have no electricity. That would mean no lighting, no heating and no electricity for our computers“, writes Mark in the online diary, while a small electric heater whirrs away beside him. “It is our first heat after four bitterly cold days. It may not be quite the same as sitting by the fireplace on a dark winter’s night, but this little fan heater has given me more warmth than the hot flames of a fire.“

Whether it’s hot water for tea or live chat on the Internet – the necessary energy comes from renewable sources
The solar systems have also been in place for a couple of days. Absolutely everything on the camp runs entirely on renewable energy. And it is working well. Robert Swan, expedition leader and conservationist who originally had the idea for the camp, is standing in the orange-coloured tent. The Arctic and Antarctic explorer presses the switch on the kettle. It simmers away and then comes to the boil. Swan brews himself a cup of tea with the hot water – the first tea from renewable energy, as he proudly puts it to the camera. The explorer talks to school children via live video and tells them about the successful use of solar panels in Antarctica. He wants to make young people aware of the importance of protecting the environment and sustainable development.

Mark Nicol quickly noticed that his perception changed because of his participation in this experiment: “Being out here really makes you think about things. There is a lot we take for granted, for example that electricity always comes out of the socket.”

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