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Falklands on the way to reduce fossil fuel consumption

Turbines at Sand Bay wind farm (photo FIG)

An extension to the wind farm and up to 100% renewable energy production is in the works.

A “global stocktake” at COP28 calls on Parties to triple renewable energy capacity and double energy efficiency improvements by 2030.

MLA Peter Biggs, who represented the Falklands at the meeting in Dubai, says actions are already being taken to increase renewable energy sources:

“We’re developing a scheme to increase our wind-generation of electricity in the Stanley area and hopefully that will be done in Mount Pleasant, too.

“A lot of camp settlements and farms have their own wind generators and are increasing solar power to decrease their use of fossil fuels.

Generally, the overall decisions made at the conference won’t have any immediate impact as we’re following that route now and, I think, quite successfully as well.”

The Falklands has six 335 kW wind turbines at Sand Bay which, together with turbines at Mare Harbour, have generated an estimated 100,000,000 kWh of energy since 2007. On average just over 30% of Stanley’s electricity is generated by the wind farm.

A third phase for Sand Bay wind farm is underway with the aim to increase Stanley’s renewable energy generation to over 50%, with periods up to 100%.

Although this and the new power station are only at the planning stages, the Falkland Islands Government (FIG) has implemented other solutions to reduce reliance on solid fuels.

The Director of Public Works, Colin Summers, says the process of making government homes more energy efficient has been going on for over ten years.

“Starting with the fabric of the building we have a minimum requirement of 150mm of mineral wool insulation and, actually, we’re bettering that in most cases now. New houses have 150mm of polyurethane insulation which is the equivalent of 250mm of mineral wool.”

High levels of insulation ensure heat stays in the building as well as good quality windows with FIG specifying a U-value of 1.8 and a spacing of 24mm between double glazing windows to keep heat in.

As well as roof and flooring insulation of 350mm and 150mm respectively, LED lighting and low consumption white goods are installed to reduce electricity use.

Alternative heating has been looked at in recent times with heat source pumps replacing solid fuel burners. Mr Summers explained one drawback of this heating source is they do not produce enough heat for hot water:

“They’re efficient for heating but not water over 60C, that’s where we need a boost. That’s where the electricity is used more which is why we’ve introduced solar-thermal into the newest houses hoping it will boost the water heating.”

According to Mr Summers, anecdotal evidence shows these measures mean fiscal savings for tenants in the long run but there still needs to be a degree of caution:

“We have to be careful as our electricity is predominantly generated by diesel, so the more electro-energy we use the more we draw on the power station which will burn more fuel. But, of course, we are in the throes of generating more renewable energy there.”

As well as a solar energy pilot scheme at Sand Bay, there are plans to retrofit existing housing stock with more energy efficient measures. The department is recording data from the new houses to see which energy systems will work best in older properties.

“It is about thermal efficiency of the houses then trying to remove fossil fuel systems and replacing them with a more environmentally friendly solution”, finished Mr Summers.

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