Life on the most remote inhabited island in the world

Electricity update


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.


Comments on: "Electricity update" (6)

  1. Thanks for sharing your life with the world. I know I’m intrigued by your island community

  2. Hello.

    Sorry and concerned to hear of the problems your community is having with the viral asthma. Hope you all get the medical supplies very soon.


  3. Thanks for your concern Trevor. For the most part, we are all doing okay, although the flu that has been going around has made everyone rather chesty and wheezy, which seems to have caused some concern. Everyone who has been affected by the flu has been given strict orders for bed rest.
    Thanks again for your comment.

  4. Hi Erik I would like to use this Image or photo on my website would you let me use it? I’m a student I want to became an electrician, but I would like to have a personal web about electricity, I need some nice pics about the topic and I fould this one interesting to me. That is the main reason of this request.
    any answer please email me at
    thanks. S Mario

  5. Elaine Noble said:

    I am also interested in the photo of the electrical tower for a website project I’m working on. I like the symmetry of the image and the colors. Can you tell me where you got it? or if you took it, would you sell the rights – I’m not looking for anything exclusive. Thanks for your consideration.

  6. Does Tristan utilize renewable energy? I am considering writing a mock proposal to size photovoltaic cells to a specific load in Tristan (possibly the city). It is difficult to find information about the energy demand of Tristan and the energy resources used (is it all diesel generators?). I am a senior Renewable Energy Engineering student. Our assignment is to write such a proposal for an isolated location and your unique and beautiful Tristan da Cunha inspires me. I am not sure if you check this blog anymore but if you could answer these questions I would be much obliged. Thank you!

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