ISFJORD RADIO PILOT FOR FULL-SCALE ENERGY PROJECT
The world’s northernmost solar park will supply Isfjord Radio with green electricity from March 2024. The aim is for the Arctic pilot project to be taken on to remote communities, which until now have been dependent on fossil fuel.
Mons Ole Sellevold at the solar park east of Isfjord Radio.
It looks like the snow sparrows are happy with our facility, smiles Mons Ole Sellevold, project manager for renewable energy at Store Norske Spitsbergen Kulkompani. Store Norske is the owner of the radio station at Kapp Linné.
The snow sparrows have put the solar panels at Isfjord Radio into use long before the station has started running on green electricity from the plant. Up from the ground, Svalbard’s smallest bird can hide its nests from the arctic fox, which is always on the lookout for delicacies such as bird eggs.
Those who have visited Isfjord Radio in 2023 have seen six rows of 360 solar panels growing to the east of the station.
– Throughout history, people’s energy needs have affected nature, and the new plant is also clearly visible. But as owners of Isfjord Radio, we believe it is absolutely right to bet on renewable solar energy, which reduces diesel consumption by up to 60 per cent, even if the plant intrudes on the natural view, says Mons Ole.
Store Norske’s ambition is for the facility at Isfjord Radio to act as a pilot for similar solutions for outposts and remote communities in both the Arctic and Antarctic. Not only will communities significantly reduce their own diesel consumption, the environmentally burdensome transport of fossil fuel will also drastically decrease.
Solar cells in the polar night?
From the end of October to the middle of February, Svalbard is in total darkness. Then there is little energy to be obtained from the solar system. In return, the midnight sun shines 24 hours a day from April to August, and the extensive battery pack in the basement at Isfjord Radio is fully charged.
The facility has panels facing both the sky in the south, but also towards the ground where the energy is obtained from the sun’s reflections in the snow.
Former minister of climate and environment Espen Barth Eide gained full insight into the innovative energy plant at Isfjord Radio, autumn 2023, presented at Mons Ole Sellevold.
– The battery pack and thermal storage consisting of series-connected hot water tanks smooth out fluctuations in energy production, explains Mons Ole.
– But it is impossible to deliver 100 percent renewable energy only from the sun and light in an area that has four months of darkness a year. We are therefore also investigating the possibilities for wind turbines, but these must take into account that there is a bird reserve next to the radio station.
Diesel consumption at Isfjord Radio has historically been just under 200,000 liters per year. With the solar plant in operation, as well as various ENØK measures, Store Norske expects to reduce diesel consumption by around 60 per cent starting in 2024. The aim is to operate the plant throughout the year almost exclusively on renewable energy, and we hope the solution for a further 30 percentage point reduction of diesel consumption is in place by 2025, concludes the project manager.
Since its inception in 1998, Basecamp Explorer has had sustainable tourism as the driving force behind all activities, and the new facility at Isfjord Radio underpins the goal of a minimum footprint in the arctic climate.
BRIEF ON THE ENERGY PROJECT
- The world’s northernmost solar park
- Established by Store Norske
- Full-scale pilot project for renewable energy in arctic regions
- 360 ground-mounted solar panels + 230 roof-mounted panels
- Reduces fossil fuel consumption by 60 per cent in 2024
- Ambition for 90 percent renewable energy in 2025
- Battery pack with 400 kWh storage capacity
- Thermal storage consisting of 12,000 liters of hot water