Further to the posting ‘answers to some questions’ and a comment we had about the electricity supply, herewith Erik’s response:
Electricity was originally provided from 06H00 – 23h00 until sometime in 2004.
However, after an agreement between Ovenstone, the Tristan government and a UN agency – the CTBTO – was concluded, power was generated and supplied on a 24 hour basis. CTBTO (Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organisation) needs constant, 24 hour power to provide various seismic data on a real time link to a Geneva based station.
The combined total of 5 Caterpillar generators are operated and maintained by Ovenstone Agencies, the lobster concession holder. Power is provided to the government on a cost recovery basis and they are responsible for distributing it to households and the various government departments. Government is billed for the bulk supply and they, in turn, are responsible for setting tariffs, billing and recovering fees for electricity supplied.
Household power is used mainly for lighting, refrigeration and other appliances. Gas is predominantly used for heating and cooking. Electricity is supplied to the households only within the settlement area. Camping huts at the Patches are almost totally reliant on gas, candles etc. Gas costs are effectively subsidised by government.
Due to capital costs, current record oil/diesel prices and the remoteness of the island, generation and distribution costs can hardly be regarded as ‘cheap’. Due to the nature of the agreement, the end cost is effectively slightly subsidised, but never the less, forms a substantial part of monthly household expenses.
In the past, small scale energy trials have been conducted with the view to reducing costs and reliance on fossil fuel, but to date nothing viable has been identified. As technology advances, specifically with solar and wind sources, I am sure a viable option will present itself that makes sense in terms of capital and maintenance costs, as well as sustainability and suitability.
In the mean time, all good ideas out there will be gratefully and seriously considered, whether commercial or philanthropic.