A British father and son are planning to reach the South Pole using only renewable energy – the first expedition of its type.
Veteran explorer Robert Swan was convinced to come out of retirement by his 23-year-old son Barney.
Durham-born Swan, 61, was the first person to walk to both Poles.
Together, he and his son will trek relying solely on green energy, with solar panels tacked to their sledges and a biofuel made from wood chips to keep them warm.
The father and son duo began their eight week expedition in November, and hope the 600-mile adventure will show renewable energy can work in extreme conditions and prove a viable alternative to fossil fuels.
‘For the first time in history we will be surviving only on renewable energy. It’s never been done,’ said Swan senior.
Robert told Metro.co.uk: ‘We have planned for every scenario but our main contingency for when we’re in an Antarctic blizzard and I can’t see my hand in front of me is the advanced biofuels provided by Shell, which will keep us warm, comfortable and most importantly, safe.’
Climate change is the father-son duo’s main motivation for the mission. Speaking on the subject, Barney said: ‘My generation has too much information and we’re tired of the inconvenient truth but this expedition is about the convenient solutions that can address the current climate change challenges.’
‘Our expedition is a small example of how we can all make choices to help us transition to a cleaner energy future. For people at home who are wondering what they can do, just making small changes like eating from sustainable sources, using less plastic cups and bags, and using solar-powered appliances to charge your phone will all help.’
Even the Swans’ 5,000 daily calorie intake will come from sustainable and energy-giving foods, to keep the trek as environmentally friendly as possible.
Their diet will include foods like grains and almond bars, to help them overcome temperatures of -40°C.
During the expedition, they risk frostbite, altitude sickness and snow blindness.
They must use a NASA-designed ice melter simply to provide themselves with enough water for drinking and cooking.
‘Water is gold down in Antarctica, without it you’re going to be dying pretty quickly, as dad always reminds me,’ said Barney.
While their aim is to complete the trek using just solar energy, under extreme weather conditions they’ll turn to an advanced biofuel made out of wood chip waste.
‘The fuels have been tested to minus 60°C…it won’t get as cold as minus 60. We may get minus 40 which is, trust me, cold enough,’ the elder Swan said.
When asked what there is left to explore, Robert Swan said: ‘The greatest exploration left is our ability as humans to learn how to live on the earth sustainably.’
They believe it will take until January 2018 to complete the trek.