Supply & installation of 24-hour power systems.
- Introduction by Clive Wilkinson
As already explained elsewhere in our website, the Falkland Islands consist of two ëworldsí the capital and only town, Stanley with its paved roads and main services, and Camp (the countryside, ie everywhere outside town). Many farms remain isolated, with only a distant prospect of a road link to other farms or the proposed ferry link across the Sound in the case of West Falkland farms. With dwindling wool income, the inevitable fixed costs of Camp life are becoming an increasing burden on all farmers.
Power for domestic and farm use in Camp has until recent years always been provided not from a national grid but by individual diesel generators, or occasionally a shared facility in the case of a settlement or larger farm. Solar panels are often used for fencing, and a few oldfashioned but sturdy windchargers used to provide battery-charging for radios or single lights, and still do in some cases, but not much more than this.
Use of generators inevitably mean that mains power is only available for a limited period each day, not to mention a heavy outlay on batteries, candles or other means of lighting. Many are now turning from these noisy, fuel-guzzling and eco-unfriendly diesel generators to our notorious Island winds, in order to not only save on fuel importation but provide power round the clock. I am proud of PowerSense's major role in bringing about this change.
My interest in renewable energy began some years ago, on buying a Trace inverter for our own use here. Impressed by its reliability, and the sturdiness of the Chloride battery bank we purchased to go with it, I decided to offer the benefits of 24-hour power to fellow farmers and so PowerSense was born.
We tested various makes of small wind turbines here on the farm, but found few of them could survive local conditions. We have a sad collection of burned-out machines. However, the larger Proven (Scottish) turbines looked interesting.
Retired farm manager Brook Hardcastle then asked me to install a complete system for him, incorporating a Proven wind turbine, and this proved highly successful. Brook and his wife Eileen were (and still are) most impressed with their new power supply. (A full account of this installation may be read in Home Power issue #55, see Links for their URL).
The Falkland Islands Development Corporation (FIDC) in Stanley now offers Stabex-funded grants to Campers purchasing such systems, and I am kept more than busy. PowerSense standard systems - ie those eligible for grant - are designed to suit varying sizes of household or settlement. All are based on a tried and tested combination - i.e. the Trace Engineering power inverter range, Chloride Motive Power battery banks, and Proven Engineering wind turbines of 2.5 or 6kW (complete with versatile heat sinks). Other systems are designed and quoted for, based on requirements. Our own system now uses a 4.5kw Trace inverter/charger, 660Ah battery bank and 2.5kw Proven wind turbine, which is a (standard system).
Building up my business over the years, I now travel widely around the Islands, mostly using the local air service but also mudtracking overland. I'm used to working in difficult conditions, frequently battling against more than just the elements - one of my biggest headaches being the Falklands Factor i.e. sheer distance from suppliers and manufacturers. Our younger son Alistair who is a qualified electronics engineer helps me whenever possible, and is shortly to become approved as our service centre for Trace equipment. We have a base in town for use as a workshop and spares storage etc.
PowerSense is also agent for Bergey, BP Solar etc, and I offer a wide range of equipment, such as solar panels, smaller batteries, electronic equipment and spares. I endeavour to provide a full back-up service and free advice to customers when needed. They don't hesitate to take advantage of this!! Phone calls at all hours... but I am happy to talk people through any problems they may encounter, and if a problem appears complex I will do my best to visit for a troubleshooting session - even if such visits prove unnecessary.
Wind turbines are becoming part of the Falkland Islands scenery now, with more and more being installed as time passes. See (map) for latest update!
Freighting of equipment around the Islands is normally done by sea, so in order to avoid handling impossibly heavy freight at the most awkward ports of call I now order battery banks as individual 2-volt cells for on-site assembly. Although I try to keep a reasonable range of spares on hand, the scope of such stock is limited by the capital required. Careful planning is vital. But if a manufacturer at the other end of the world omits a vital bit of equipment from the crate, some quick thinking is called for, with no electrical supplier or ironmonger just down the road... Air travel restricts the amount of spares, tools etc that I can cart around with me to sites, but I have learned the hard way what I need to keep with me for such trips.
Please note that I am willing to advise on suitable equipment for 24-hour power, demonstrate techniques or even physically assist with installations anywhere in the world. I expect no payment for this, other than travel costs plus basic bed and board. Feel free to contact me if you would like further information on this or any aspect of PowerSense, and I will do my best to help.
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