Energy management in Patagonia National Park

Atelier Ten Foundation

Patagonia National Park

The thought and planning for my trip to the Asyen region of Chile to work with the Patagonia Land Trust began nearly five years ago after I read an article about Doug and Kris and their efforts in Patagonia. I was impressed by the effect two individuals could have on environmental conservation and I immediately knew I wanted to be a part of their commitment.

The aim of this project is to help realise the goal of a fully sustainable, energy independent national park: Conservacion Patagonica is planning several visitor centres on a par with Yellowstone and Yosemite National Parks, while the remoteness of the park requires that energy onsite be self sustaining. To that end, we focused on understanding the electrical systems by installing three state-of-the-art electricity meters. These meters collect energy consumption and power demand data every 15 minutes. This data is analysed to help understand the peak electric demand and annual energy consumption and will allow two key developments.

Patagonia National Park

First, the data will show the hourly variations in energy consumption from which an energy management plan can be developed. This plan will inform park staff of the energy usage patterns and create a framework for how and when energy can be consumed. In effect, the staff (and visitors) will enable a demand response programme to smooth out energy consumption in the park and make the electricity grid more stable. Secondly, the data will show energy consumption over the course of a year for the park and will be the first step to inform the size of the proposed wind turbines and hydrogen storage system. In order for this second step to be fully realised, meters will need to be installed on all buildings in the park and it is our intention to have the remaining meters installed by the end of 2012. This first trip was funded by the Atelier Ten Foundation: I hope to return at the beginning of 2013 to install portable electrical data logging system.