Veteran polar explorer Robert Swan and his 23-year-old son Barney are hoping to become the first team to trek to the South Pole relying solely on renewable energy. Matthew Stock reports.
It's possibly the ultimate in father-son bonding... Veteran polar explorer Robert Swan and his 23 year old son Barney will trek 600 miles to the South Pole later this month. But they're planning to do it relying solely on green energy. They say it's a world first. SOUNDBITE (English) ROBERT SWAN, POLAR EXPLORER, SAYING: "For the first time in history a father and son will be making that journey and for the first time in history we will be surviving only on renewable energy. It's never been done." On top of frostbite, altitude sickness and snow blindness - another major hurdle is melting enough snow for water. SOUNDBITE (English) BARNEY SWAN, POLAR EXPLORER, SAYING: "Water is gold down in Antarctica, without it you're going to be dying pretty quickly as dad always reminds me. So what we're trying to do differently is using different forms of energy to actually get that snow into water, that's the most energy intensive part of what we're doing." This NASA-designed device uses solar cells to melt ice for drinking and cooking, though its ultimate purpose will be a long way from home, says Swan. SOUNDBITE (English) ROBERT SWAN, POLAR EXPLORER, SAYING: "There is ice on Mars; so the first people to go to Mars - and I think I'll be a bit too old but maybe Barney might not be - will be out there chipping ice and putting it into an ice melter that's being powered by solar - love it." In extreme weather - with the solar cells struggling - they'll turn to an advanced biofuel made from woodchip waste. Designed by Shell - it's been tested at temperature down to minus 60 Celsius. SOUNDBITE (English) ROBERT SWAN, POLAR EXPLORER, SAYING: "As I said to Barney the other day, at minus 60 we'll be in the wrong place because it won't get as cold as minus 60. We may get minus 40 which is, trust me, cold enough." Their 8-week expedition is scheduled to start on November 15. If green energy can triumph in even the most extreme conditions, they hope it could inspire people and governments to see it as a real alternative to fossil fuels.