On 15 November 2017, Robert Swan, the first person in history to walk to both the North and South Poles, is making a return expedition to Antarctica with his son Barney, 23, one of a new generation of explorers. The eight-week journey, called the South Pole Energy Challenge, will be the world’s first polar expedition powered solely by renewable energy sources, including solar, wind technology and advanced biofuels made out of woodchip waste provided by Shell.
By using these renewable sources of energy, Robert and Barney will be able to power their cooking stove and keep warm in temperatures as low as minus 40°C, as they cover 600 miles through some of the most inhospitable terrain on Earth.
The advanced Shell biofuels that Robert and Barney will rely on were developed specifically for this expedition at the Shell Technology Centre, Bangalore, India. Vicky Boiten-Lee, Shell’s Global General Manager Retail Fuels said, “Shell recognises that biofuels along with other renewable energy sources will be important to the world of tomorrow. The advanced biofuels that Robert and Barney will be using will be critical in keeping them warm, dry and fed during this epic expedition.”
In undertaking this 60-day mission accompanied with his son, Robert will be passing on his knowledge of polar exploration and fragile environments to Barney, who himself grew up off-grid. This experience taught him “how valuable energy is” and how important it is that we learn to “reduce our collective impact”, a message he’s determined to pass on to his and future generations.
“There is no silver bullet solution to managing the challenges of climate change,” says Robert, “and we must meet this challenge through collaboration amongst all players in society – governments, entrepreneurs and industry – to provide a mixture of cleaner energy solutions as we work towards a low carbon future.
“Increasing the use of renewable sources of energy is essential to reducing CO2 emissions. By putting these clean energies to the test in Antarctica, the Earth’s harshest wilderness, Barney and I want to prove that they can be developed for use anywhere, and therefore play a crucial part in helping the planet transition to a lower-carbon future.”