FE Today Logo

Solar panels go into service near North Pole

September 20, 2023 00:00:00

KAPP LINNE, Sept 19 (AFP): Norway has installed solar panels in its Svalbard archipelago, a region plunged in round-the-clock darkness all winter, in a pilot project that could help remote Arctic communities transition to green energy.

Neatly lined up in six rows in a field, 360 solar panels will on Thursday begin providing electricity to an old shipping radio station, Isfjord Radio, now converted into a base camp for tourists.

The windswept archipelago-also known as Spitsbergen-is located some 1,300 kilometres (800 miles) from the North Pole and is accessible only by boat or helicopter, weather-permitting.

"It's what we believe to be the world's northernmost ground-mounted PV (photovoltaic) system," Mons Ole Sellevold, renewable energies technical adviser at state-owned energy group Store Norske, told AFP.

"It's the first time anyone has done it at this scale in the Arctic," he said, his rifle slung over his shoulder in case polar bears turn up, a not uncommon occurrence at these latitudes.

Another 100 solar panels are positioned on the roof of the radio station-which has until now run on diesel generators-and should cover about half of the site's electricity needs and cut its CO2 emissions.

In summer, the region is bathed in an abundance of sunlight, with a "midnight sun" that never sets.

Share if you like