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Yearly Archives: 2024 − News


Pro­per­ty for sale in Recher­chefjord

It is almost temp­ting to wri­te “Spits­ber­gen about to beco­me Chi­ne­se”, but no, that is not the level we are working at here. That would be non­sen­se, alt­hough you might almost have belie­ved it, loo­king at some recent head­lines.

Pro­per­ty in Sval­bard: that’s how it star­ted

We have to go back to the begin­ning of the 20th cen­tu­ry for a moment. Spits­ber­gen was no man’s land and com­pa­nies, many small and a few lar­ger ones, came and clai­med rights, thin­king mining would be a way to make a for­tu­ne up north. Most com­pa­nies were far too small and did not have the expe­ri­ence or the funds to start mining at indus­tri­al level, but some did, such as John Mun­ro Longyear’s Arc­tic Coal Com­pa­ny which foun­ded Lon­gye­ar­by­en (then known as Lon­gyear City) in 1906.

Recherchefjord

60 sqa­re km of pro­per­ty are now on offer in Recher­chefjord – for 300 mil­li­on Euro.

Many of the small com­pa­nies quick­ly ran out of money, and some of them sold their claims to others. Many of the claims were over­lap­ping. It took years to sort this mess out, a pro­cess that was requi­red to be finis­hed befo­re the Spits­ber­gen Trea­ty could enter force in 1925.

Com­pa­nies con­tin­ued to sell their various pro­per­ties also after 1925, and so did suc­ces­sors and heirs. Often it had beco­me clear that the­re would never be any mining or other kind of land use befo­re land or claims would be sold. Usual­ly the Nor­we­gi­an sta­te secu­red pro­per­ties and mining rights to get Svalbard’s land are­as under con­trol. By now, 99 % of Svalbard’s ground are owned by the Nor­we­gi­an govern­ment. The Rus­si­an sta­te-owned mining com­pa­ny Trust Arc­ti­cu­gol owns some smal­ler land are­as in Isfjord (Barents­burg, Colesdalen/Grumant, Pyra­mi­den, Erd­mann­flya) – and then the­re is Kul­spids AS, one of many com­pa­nies that were foun­ded in the ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry to explo­re and exploit mine­ral resour­ces.

Kul­spids AS

Kul­spids AS secu­red a land area of 60 squa­re kilo­me­t­res in inner Recher­chefjord. Asbes­tos is one mine­ral found in the area and mining was attempt­ed, but not suc­cessful. Kul­spids AS still exists and still owns the pro­per­ty, which today’s owners of the com­pa­ny now want to turn into money, as was initi­al­ly repor­ted by Bloom­berg. The sto­ry was quick­ly picked up by various Nor­we­gi­an media inclu­ding NRK.

“All bidders wel­co­me” is the seller’s mes­sa­ge, addres­sing indi­vi­du­als, com­pa­nies and govern­ments ali­ke. It is poin­ted out that also govern­ments such as the ones in Chi­na or Rus­sia could buy the pro­per­ty, if a pri­ce could only be agreed on. And of cour­se the geo­po­li­ti­cal signi­fi­can­ce of arc­tic are­as in gene­ral is also high­ligh­ted by Kul­spids AS repre­sen­ta­ti­ve.

Geo­po­li­ti­cal signi­fi­can­ce – or not

Wha­te­ver the geo­po­li­ti­cal signi­fi­can­ce actual­ly might include is, hower, unclear: any new owner, as well as the cur­rent one, has to com­ply with the Sval­bard envi­ron­men­tal law and the Spits­ber­gen (Sval­bard) Trea­ty. This makes pret­ty much any kind of land use impos­si­ble. No future owner, inclu­ding the govern­ment of Chi­na (or Rus­sia, for that sake) would legal­ly be able to build a hotel, a har­bour, a rese­arch sta­ti­on, a mine or a mili­ta­ry base. Nobo­dy would even legal­ly be able to dri­ve a snow mobi­le wit­hout spe­cial per­mis­si­on from Nor­we­gi­an aut­ho­ri­ties, which would be dif­fi­cult to get. The geo­po­li­ti­cal signi­fi­can­ce of the pro­per­ty bey­ond pres­ti­ge is hence doubtful.

Con­side­ring the abo­ve, rese­ar­cher Andre­as Øst­ha­gen of the Fri­dt­jof Nan­sen Insti­tu­te recom­mends the Nor­we­gi­an govern­ment to remain calm and not make a very expen­si­ve panic purcha­se, accor­ding to Sval­bard­pos­ten. The mini­mum bid is set at the proud amount of 3.5 bil­li­on (yes, bil­li­on!) Nor­we­gi­an kro­ner – curr­ent­ly about 300 mil­li­on Euro. For com­pa­ri­son: at the latest com­pa­ra­ble trans­fer in 2014, when a lar­ge pro­per­ty on the north side of Advent­fjord was sold, the pri­ce was near one tenth of today’s mini­mum bid. Even then, the pri­ce was con­tro­ver­si­al – and mining or other land use would at least in theo­ry have been pos­si­ble, con­side­ring the pro­per­ty sold in 2014 was not part of any natio­nal park or other spe­ci­al­ly pro­tec­ted area.

Hence, it seems fair to assu­me that poin­ting at any geo­po­li­ti­cal or other importance of the pro­per­ty in Recher­chefjord or at poten­ti­al buy­ers such as Chi­na pri­ma­ri­ly ser­ve as a tool to push the pri­ce and to increase the pres­su­re on the Nor­we­gi­an govern­ment to secu­re the land for Nor­way. Not­hing is so far known about any buy­ers actual­ly being inte­res­ted or any serious bids.

Mean­while, a spo­kesper­son of the Nor­we­gi­an govern­ment said that the govern­ment had actual­ly made an offer in the past which was con­side­red gene­rous con­side­ring that the pro­per­ty does not come with any land use poten­ti­al. The offer was tur­ned down by Kul­spids AS. It was also said that becau­se of an old con­tract bet­ween the govern­ment and Kul­spids AS, the pro­per­ty can not be sold wit­hout govern­ment appr­oval.

In any case, this is the very last major land area in Sval­bard still in pri­va­te hands. Once it is sold, the time of major pro­per­ties chan­ging from one owner to ano­ther will be over. The­re are very few other, small pri­va­te pro­per­ties in Sval­bard. In tho­se cases whe­re for exam­p­le a pri­va­te per­son owns a house in Lon­gye­ar­by­en, the pro­per­ty as such does not include the land the house is stan­ding on – this is alre­a­dy govern­ment pro­per­ty.

Lon­gye­ar­by­en locals: join Mean­der for a trip to Kongsfjord and Ny-Åle­sund!

From 23 May (Thurs­day) evening to 26 May (Sun­day) evening, that is.

The best things in life often come as a sur­pri­se. That’s how it is here and now: unex­pec­ted­ly, sai­ling ship Mean­der has some days off in May. Stay­ing in port is bor­ing, so we rather sail and have some fun – locals only, at a cost-cove­ring pri­ce!

Our idea is to sche­du­le a 3 day trip, aiming for Ny-Åle­sund and a look around in Kongsfjord, with seve­ral stops on the way the­re and back. Such as loo­king for wal­ru­ses in For­lands­und, crui­sing in Kongsfjord and making a landing or two some­whe­re in the­se waters as it fits. This is our plan A; of cour­se, ice and wea­ther may have a say in this as well.

SV Meander, Svalbard 2023

SV Mean­der last year on Spitsbergen’s north side.

Have a look at this pdf for all fur­ther details. Or email Mean­der‘s cap­tain and owner Mario direct­ly at info(at)sailing-expeditions.com if you are inte­res­ted.

This season’s first tri­plog: with SV Mean­der from Alta to Bodø

The 2024 arc­tic sai­son has begun! We spent 10 days with SV Mean­der sai­ling in north Nor­way from Alta to Bodø. If you fol­low my tra­vel blog on the­se pages then you know all about it and you have alre­a­dy seen a lot of pic­tures. Now the tri­plog is available. The tri­plog its­elf is in Ger­man, but it comes with ple­nty of pho­tos well sor­ted in 3 gal­le­ries. Start here.

SV Meander, Norway 2024

SV Mean­der in Troll­fjord.

It is cer­tain­ly worth cli­cking through the pho­tos. We were very lucky on this trip, with a lot of suns­hi­ne and no real­ly bad wea­ther, almost a bit unty­pi­cal for the area and that time of year, still late win­ter. And yes, the wha­les … but just have a look at the pic­tures.

Good SV Mean­der will keep sai­ling in north Nor­way also in the future, both in spring and in the late sea­son, in Novem­ber, when we count on see­ing nor­t­hern lights and orcas. Visit Sai­ling Expedition’s web­site for more infor­ma­ti­on.

The next tri­plog will come in June, after the trip with Anti­gua 31 May – 08 June.

Ships and rocks …

… are by no means a good com­bi­na­ti­on. That is gene­ral­ly well known, but nevert­hel­ess, some­ti­mes it hap­pens that both meet.

It hap­pen­ed actual­ly twice in Spits­ber­gen in April, short­ly after the begin­ning of the sea­son. To start with the good news: none of the­se inci­den­ces invol­ved serious con­se­quen­ces for life and limb or the envi­ron­ment.

The French ves­sel Polar­front hit the ground clo­se to the coast at Dia­ba­sod­den in Isfjord. Soon it recei­ved help from the coast guard, who evacua­ted the 12 pas­sen­gers and later pul­led Polar­front off the shal­low. The ship could sail back to Lon­gye­ar­by­en under its own steam. No dama­ge was found upon later inspec­tion. Inves­ti­ga­ti­ons have not been finis­hed yet, but “inat­ten­ti­ve navi­ga­ti­on” is suspec­ted rather than tech­ni­cal reasons.

Polarfront

Polar­front (archi­ve image).

Ano­ther case hap­pen­ed also in April, when Viking­fjord ran aground clo­se to the shore in Mag­da­le­nefjord. 22 per­sons were on board, inclu­ding 12 pas­sen­gers. Viking­fjord came afloat again with high water, appar­ent­ly wit­hout any dama­ge.

Yet ano­ther inci­dent hap­pen­ed at the west coast when a fire bro­ke out on the sai­ling ship Lin­den. The fire could be brought under con­trol and the ship sai­led to Lon­gye­ar­by­en for inspec­tion.

Com­ment

Nobo­dy who takes part in any kind of traf­fic should ever say he or she would never be invol­ved in an acci­dent, such as groun­ding when it comes to ship­ping. Nevert­hel­ess, when a ship runs aground at some pace pret­ty clo­se to the shore within gene­ral­ly well-known and well-char­ted waters, it may rai­se more than an eye­brow. Inves­ti­ga­ti­ons still need to be car­ri­ed out, but it seems to be a fair assump­ti­on that the­se invi­dents might well have been avo­ided with careful, pro­per navi­ga­ti­on. Lucki­ly, the­se cases remain­ed wit­hout con­se­quen­ces for health and life of peo­p­le or dama­ge to the envi­ron­ment. What remains is pro­ba­b­ly eco­no­mic­al trou­ble for the respec­ti­ve ship owners and tour oer­a­tors and poli­ti­cal dama­ge that might well later con­cern ever­y­bo­dy who is sai­ling in the­se waters.

Sval­bard ski­ma­ra­thon in wind and cold

This year’s Sval­bard Ski­ma­ra­thon went off Satur­day mor­ning. Strong wind made the race a chall­enge for the 648 par­ti­ci­pan­ts and even threa­ten­ed to burst the event: the wea­ther ser­vice had issued an ava­lan­che war­ning for the gene­ral area, and Toda­len, the val­ley with the race track, is gene­ral­ly spea­king an area whe­re ava­lan­ches are known to occur.

Svalbard Skimarathon

The Sval­bard ski­ma­ra­thon went on Satur­day in Toda­len under chal­len­ging con­di­ti­ons:
strong wind and -12 degrees cen­ti­gra­de.

Ava­lan­che safe­ty was taken care of by a team of spe­cia­lists who sur­vey­ed the area just befo­re the race by heli­c­op­ter and on the ground, so the race could start with a delay of one hour. The ran­ge of par­ti­ci­pan­ts included pro­fes­sio­nals such as the Nor­we­gi­an Olym­pic cham­pi­on Olaf Tuf­te, ambi­tious ama­teurs and fami­lies with child­ren who could cho­se bet­ween half and full mara­thon.

Svalbard Skimarathon

Full distance Win­ner Pet­ter Sol­eng Skin­stad with a time of 2:19:11, fol­lo­wed by Eivind Vold.

For all of them the race was a signi­fi­cant chall­enge, con­side­ring the arc­tic wea­ther con­di­ti­ons and 400 met­res of alti­tu­de that had to be cover­ed up and down.

Svalbard Skimarathon, polar bear safety guard

At any other mara­thon else­whe­re, this would imme­dia­te­ly have cau­sed a major poli­ce ope­ra­ti­on. In this case, nobo­dy paid any par­ti­cu­lar atten­ti­on 🙂

Some more impres­si­ons from this year’s Sval­bard ski­ma­ra­thon.

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

Lon­gye­ar­by­en has got the power

Lon­gye­ar­by­en and its power: a never-ending sto­ry. This is not about hig­her powers, it is about elec­tri­ci­ty and long-distance hea­ting. But this is enough to wri­te a book about in this litt­le town in Advent­fjord (not for me as an aut­hor, thanks).

As visi­tors of this web­site will pro­ba­b­ly know (have a look here for a quick refres­her), Longyearbyen’s power sup­p­ly was based on coal for more than a cen­tu­ry. Last autumn, coal was repla­ced with die­sel. This is a tem­po­ra­ry solu­ti­on only, the idea is to install some­thing more envi­ron­men­tal­ly fri­end­ly, ide­al­ly wit­hout CO2-emis­si­ons. But nobo­dy knows what exact­ly this should be alt­hough it is a ques­ti­on that has been deba­ted for years alre­a­dy. The idea of a nuclear power plant for this town with 2500 inha­bi­tants has recent­ly sur­faced again in a let­ter to the edi­tor of Sval­bard­pos­ten, the local news­pa­per.

Power plant Longyearbyen

The Power plant in Lon­gye­ar­by­en sup­pli­es peo­p­le with elec­tri­ci­ty, long-distance hea­ting and con­ver­sa­ti­on topics.

Tech­ni­cal issues and capa­ci­ty worries

The ope­ra­ti­on of the new die­sel gene­ra­tors, howe­ver, tur­ned out to be any­thing but smooth. The­re have been tech­ni­cal issues more than once, inclu­ding a hava­ry of one of the engi­nes that was simi­lar to an explo­si­on. One man got a good share of oil and engi­ne parts from short distance. Lucki­ly, he did not recei­ve any serious inju­ries. Major cus­to­mers who have got their own emer­gen­cy power sys­tems such as mine 7, the last coal mine near Lon­gye­ar­by­en still in ope­ra­ti­on, and KSat (the ope­ra­tor of the satel­li­te anten­nas on Pla­tå­berg) have been asked to use their capa­ci­ties to redu­ce the bur­den on Longyearbyen’s power plant.

Help from the Nor­we­gi­an mili­ta­ry

A few weeks ago, Sys­sel­mes­ter (gover­nor) Lars Fau­se deci­ded that Longyearbyen’s power sup­p­ly sys­tem was not good enough, espe­ci­al­ly in the­se times of cold tem­pe­ra­tures, and he asked the Nor­we­gi­an mili­ta­ry for help. They have capa­ci­ties to set up a power sup­p­ly sys­tem any­whe­re on short war­ning, and that is just what they did in Lon­gye­ar­by­en. The mili­ta­ry gene­ra­tors now ser­ve as a back­up sys­tem in case the ori­gi­nal sys­tem should expe­ri­ence major trou­bles, it is not inten­ded to be used. But this is only a tem­po­ra­ry back­up and not a per­ma­nent solu­ti­on.

The Nor­we­gi­an air­force was heard say­ing that they could evacua­te Lon­gye­ar­by­en quick­ly at any time if nee­ded. This rather dra­stic mea­su­re could come into play in the event of a major inter­rup­ti­on of Longyearbyen’s power sup­p­ly, some­thing that could quick­ly lead to a dan­ge­rous situa­ti­on espe­ci­al­ly in the cold sea­son. Tem­pe­ra­tures have recent­ly often been under -20°C, and most hou­ses are poor­ly insu­la­ted. And almost all buil­dings in Lon­gye­ar­by­en rely on distant hea­ting. A col­lap­se of the distant hea­ting sys­tem would soon serious­ly affect the water sup­p­ly, which in its­elf is chal­len­ging enough even when hea­ting and power are no pro­blem. We have seen enough of that in recent weeks.

Pri­ce increase to be expec­ted

Nobo­dy knows for sure what Longyearbyen’s power sup­p­ly of the future will look like. But the­re is litt­le doubt that it will be expen­si­ve. Litt­le Lon­gye­ar­by­en will hard­ly be able to pay the bill on its own and finan­cial aid from Oslo is likely to play a major role. Nevert­hel­ess, an increase in pri­ces is expec­ted (they are tal­king about this while I am wri­ting) – start­ing on a level that is alre­a­dy pret­ty high.

Die­sel power plant wit­hout per­mis­si­on

To make things even “bet­ter”, the die­sel power plant that is now in ope­ra­ti­on is run­ning wit­hout the neces­sa­ry per­mis­si­ons. The ope­ra­tor, a com­pa­ny owned by the com­mu­ni­ty, appears to have assu­med that the old licen­se for the coal power plant would be suf­fi­ci­ent also for the die­sel gene­ra­tors, also based on the assump­ti­on that emis­si­ons would now be lower. The­re appears to be some uncer­tain­ty about wether or not this is actual­ly the case, but hig­her aut­ho­ri­ties have now made it clear that the ope­ra­ti­on of the power plant requi­res per­mis­si­on which is not yet in place. At least, aut­ho­ri­ties have remark­ed that the­re is awa­re­ness of the importance of the power plant for Lon­gye­ar­by­en and a forced shut­down is not to be expec­ted on short noti­ce (but theo­re­ti­cal­ly pos­si­ble).

Power plant Longyearbyen

Longyearbyen’s power plant: “lega­li­se it” 😅
With a subt­le hint to an enti­re­ly dif­fe­rent deba­te.
Pho­to­mon­ta­ge by Wol­fang Hüb­ner-Zach, wit­hout any per­so­nal inte­rest in the mat­ter that is added to the ori­gi­nal pho­to.

Rea­dy for yet ano­ther fun fact? The­re was a die­sel power plant in Sveagru­va, the for­mer mining sett­le­ment in Van Mijenfjord that has under­go­ne a major cle­a­nup in recent years. The­re are tho­se who knew it and who say that it would have ser­ved Lon­gye­ar­by­en per­fect­ly well.

The old Svea power plant has recent­ly been tur­ned into scrap metal.

At least the gene­ra­tors from Lun­ckef­jel­let, Sveagruva’s most recent mine that never ente­red the stage of pro­duc­ti­ve pro­duc­tion, are now envi­sa­ged to replace the abo­ve-men­tio­ned mili­ta­ry gene­ra­tors and ser­ve as a back­up for Longyearbyen’s main sys­tem.

New fish spe­ci­es found in Eskerd­a­len

Most peo­p­le would pro­ba­b­ly not expect to find any fish at all in Spitsbergen’s rivers and lakes which are fro­zen most of the year. Arc­tic char is quite well known, a fish simi­lar to sal­mon, and pink sal­mon, an inva­si­ve spe­ci­es that has arri­ved in Sval­bard in recent years. Both are main­ly found in lar­ger lakes and lag­gons and rivers that con­nect the­se waters with the sea.

Fish in Spitsbergen's rivers, arctic char and pink salmon

Fish in Spitsbergen’s rivers, arc­tic char and pink sal­mon.

If you do a trip to the east from Lon­gye­ar­by­en in the win­ter, for exam­p­le to Tem­pel­fjord or the east coast, you will pass a litt­le water­fall in Eskerd­a­len, known as Esker­fos­sen. It is a popu­lar place for a litt­le rest.

Eskerfossen, winter

The water­fall Esker­fos­sen in win­ter.

Curr­ent­ly you can see some­thing pret­ty unu­su­al at Esker­fos­sen: the­re are seve­ral fishes in the most­ly clear ice, just under the sur­face.

Eskerfossen with fishes

Esker­fos­sen with fishes.

It is not just the the view of fishes in the ice of a water­fall is more than just a litt­le unu­su­al. Bey­ond that, it is a spe­ci­es that is so far unknown from Spitsbergen’s waters.

Is it a new spe­ci­es? An inva­si­ve one, or was evo­lu­ti­on incre­di­bly fast this time? Is it con­nec­ted to cli­ma­te chan­ge? The Rus­si­ans? Ali­ens? ..?

Fisch im Eskerfossen

Fish in Esker­fos­sen. Image tur­ned 90 degrees for easier vie­w­ing.

The ans­wer to this pro­blem is cer­tain­ly much easier than that: this remar­kab­le dis­co­very was made on April 2, and it is well known which day comes befo­re April 2.

It appears safe to assu­me that, other than Esker­fos­sen, the free­zer in Sval­bard­bu­tik­ken (the super­mar­ket) is most likely the only place whe­re this spe­ci­es can be found in Sval­bard 😄

With this slight­ly delay­ed April fool’s day joke (the ori­gi­nal crea­tor of which is unknown to me) I wish ever­y­bo­dy a hap­py remai­ning April!

View into Tempelfjord

View into Tem­pel­fjord from Fred­heim, 12 km north of Esker­fos­sen.

Eas­ter gree­tings from Spits­ber­gen

It has been a bit calm on this page recent­ly, but the­re are reasons for that. A good part of life still hap­pens in the off­line world 🙂.

Spits­ber­gen is curr­ent­ly stun­nin­gly beau­tiful. It is icy cold, just as you would expect in the Arc­tic during the win­ter. Last night it was -30°C in Advent­da­len. Near sea level, that is.

Sassenfjord with ice

View over the fro­zen Sas­senfjord.

It has been cold for a while now, and the­re is more ice in the fjords than the­re was in the recent past. Sas­senfjord is fro­zen, as you can see in the­se pic­tures, and that had not been the case in a while. The ice edge is curr­ent­ly stret­ching from Dia­ba­sod­den to Gåsøya­ne.

Sassenfjord with ice

The shore at Elve­ne­set, view to the west (Dick­son Land in the back­ground to the right).

It is a pri­vi­le­ge to spend a moment stan­ding at the shore of Sas­senfjord, enjoy­ing the view of the ice and the sur­roun­ding sce­n­ery. It is an expe­ri­ence that makes it easy to lea­ve the world with all its trou­bles behind for a pre­cious moment, some­thing that feels real­ly good.

In this sen­se I wish ever­y­bo­dy who made it to this web­site – and ever­y­bo­dy else, too – hap­py, peaceful Eas­ter holi­days!

And becau­se it is so beau­tiful: once again the view of Sas­senfjord, seen from Elve­ne­set.

Sassenfjord mit Eis

The shore at Elve­ne­set, view to the east, with Tem­pel­fjord in the distance.

Jan May­en 2015: clim­bing Bee­ren­berg – video by Pas­cal Prinz

Jan May­en 2015 … it’s been a while! Well, the­re are expe­ri­en­ces that you just can’t repeat (espe­ci­al­ly when the island in ques­ti­on has mean­while lar­ge­ly been clo­sed by the respon­si­ble govern­ment, but that is ano­ther sto­ry).

Then, we rea­ched the top of Bee­ren­berg and more. You will, as usu­al, find my own impres­si­ons in my tra­vel blog (June 2015). But Pas­cal Prinz cap­tu­red some cool moving images and now he has com­pi­led them to pro­du­ce a gre­at litt­le video:

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Jan May­en and Bee­ren­berg 2015, by Pas­cal Prinz

Thank you, Pas­cal! 😀👏👍

Polar bear „Frost“: anaes­the­tiza­ti­on not cau­se of death

The death of the fema­le polar bear “Frost” and her cub on Good Fri­day 2023 in Sas­senfjord had attrac­ted inter­na­tio­nal atten­ti­on (click here for fur­ther details). The polar bear fami­ly had come clo­se to an area with huts on Vin­dod­den and peo­p­le had scared the two bears away. Soon the­re­af­ter Frost was seen dead in the water not far from the shore. The poli­ce (Sys­sel­mes­ter) was invol­ved; they shot the young bear that had appeared to be aggres­si­ve and secu­red the bodies and other infor­ma­ti­on for inves­ti­ga­ti­ons.

Soon it beca­me known that Frost and her cub had been anes­the­ti­zed just two days befo­re their death by sci­en­tists from the Nor­we­gi­an Polar Insti­tu­te. This led to spe­cu­la­ti­ons that the anaes­the­tiza­ti­on might have been the cau­se of the death of the two bears which had appeared to be a bit of a mys­tery; usual­ly polar bears are excel­lent swim­mers and they cover gre­at distances in icy waters with ease.

Now the aut­ho­ri­ties have an auto­psy report; it is (so far) unpu­blished, but Sval­bard­pos­ten could read at least parts of it. The result: the anaes­the­tiza­ti­on was not the cau­se of death. Frost had serious inter­nal inju­ries inclu­ding bro­ken ribs, a punc­tu­red lung and inter­nal blee­ding. Accor­ding to the report, the­se inju­ries were the cau­se of Frost’s death.

It is not known how Frost recei­ved the­se inju­ries. A fall from a cliff appears as a reasonable sce­na­rio.

The anaes­the­tiza­ti­on had been done two days ear­lier in Tem­pel­fjord, six to seven kilo­me­t­res away from Vin­dod­den whe­re the two bears later died. After the anaes­the­tiza­ti­on, the sci­en­tists had obser­ved Frost and her cub for a while until their beha­viour appeared to be nor­mal again. A cau­sal con­nec­tion bet­ween the anaes­the­tiza­ti­on and Frost’s death is the­r­e­fo­re ruled out by the aut­ho­ri­ties.

Polar bear family in Isfjord, possibly Frost

Polar bear fami­ly in Isfjord. It is not known if this was Frost.

Every year seve­ral dozens or a three-digit num­ber of polar bears are anaes­the­ti­zed by sci­en­tists for inves­ti­ga­ti­ons. The polar bears are mark­ed and some of them equip­ped with trans­mit­ters, size and weight are recor­ded and various samples taken. Also Frost, known to sci­ent­sists as N23992, had been through that pro­ce­du­re a num­ber of times in her life. Polar bear bio­lo­gist Jon Aars of the Nor­we­gi­an Polar Insti­tu­te says that he and his col­le­agues have anaes­the­ti­zed about 1000 polar bears in 20 years. In 3 cases, polar bears are known to have died from the con­se­quen­ces; the­re might be at least a 4th case which is not pro­ven bey­ond a noti­ceable tem­po­ral con­nec­tion. In any case, the pro­ce­du­re invol­ves signi­fi­cant stress for the bears and it is thus cri­ti­ci­zed by ani­mal rights acti­vists.

The fema­le polar bear Frost had been seen by many, also becau­se she had a ten­den­cy to stay near huts and sett­le­ments. She had made it a habit to break into huts, an unfort­u­na­te habit which she appeared to have taught to her cubs. She beca­me a bit of a cele­bri­ty through media covera­ge inclu­ding the docu­men­ta­ry “Queen wit­hout land” made by Asge­ir Hel­ge­land (ori­gi­nal title: „Dron­ning uten Land“). Click here for more about Frost’s adven­tur­ous and part­ly tra­gic life.

Her ten­den­cy to stay near sett­le­ments and to break into huts was any­thing but popu­lar among­st locals, and the­re were many who took the infor­ma­ti­on about her death with reli­ef.

Radio­ac­ti­ve cae­si­um lost near mine 7

Radioc­ti­ve? Cae­si­um? Lost? That may rai­se more than an eye­brow or two.

So befo­re anyo­ne gets high blood pres­su­re: no need to. Not­hing and nobo­dy is end­an­ge­red and that won’t chan­ge.

Simi­lar case in Aus­tra­lia

The sto­ry reminds one of a case in Aus­tra­lia in Janu­ary 2023 when a very small cap­su­le of radio­ac­ti­ve cae­si­um was lost during road trans­port over 1400 kilo­me­t­res. If hand­led irre­spon­si­bly, cae­si­um can inde­ed be a very dan­ge­rous sub­s­tance. Hence, a major search was initia­ted and the cae­si­um cap­su­le was found only two days later.

Cae­si­um cap­su­le lost in 1984

A simi­lar cap­su­le was lost on the moun­tain Brein­osa near mine 7 east of Lon­gye­ar­by­en in Spits­ber­gen. The inci­dent hap­pen­ed in 1984, no less than 40 years ago. Now the sto­ry sur­faced again in a report in the con­text of pre­pa­ra­ti­ons to clo­se mine 7 in 2025, as Sval­bard­pos­ten recent­ly repor­ted.

The dif­fe­rence to the case in Aus­tra­lia: the cae­si­um cap­su­le in Spits­ber­gen is still whe­re it was lost in 1984. And it will stay the­re.

Breinosa, mine 7: caesium capsule lost

Mine 7 and the moun­tain Brein­osa: cae­si­um cap­su­le under 300 met­res of solid rock
(pho­to taken during a sche­du­led flight to Lon­gye­ar­by­en).

Radio­ac­ti­ve cae­si­um 137 in mining

So what hap­pen­ed? A source of radia­ti­on such as a cap­su­le of cae­si­um 137 is used for exam­p­le during pro­s­pec­ting mine­ral resour­ces: it can be appli­ed to get infor­ma­ti­on about the com­po­si­ti­on of rocks. The idea is that the inten­si­ty of radia­ti­on recei­ved by a mea­su­ring device from a source of known inten­si­ty and in a known distance yields infor­ma­ti­on aboutn the den­si­ty of the rocks bet­ween the source and the mea­su­ring device and this again tells geo­lo­gists some­thing about the poten­ti­al pre­sence (or absence) of mate­ri­als such as coal that have a dif­fe­rent den­si­ty than, say, sand­stone.

But it is not a good thing when someone drops the cae­si­um cap­su­le into a bore­hole more than 300 met­res deep. This is not to say that someone actual­ly drop­ped it manu­al­ly, a cae­si­um cap­su­le is not some­thing you just hold in your hand, obvious­ly. But any­way, somehow the cap­su­le dis­ap­peared into that 300 m deep, nar­row hole near mine 7 on the moun­tain Brein­osa during pro­s­pec­ting work.

The cae­si­um cap­su­le will stay whe­re it is

It is tech­ni­cal­ly not pos­si­ble to retrie­ve the cae­si­um cap­su­le from more than 300 m depth at the bot­tom of a nar­row bore­hole wit­hout crea­ting an enti­re­ly new way of access, some­thing that would obvious­ly invol­ve mas­si­ve effort. On the other hand, a rock cover of 300 m pro­vi­des a pret­ty safe place for a small amount of cae­si­um. Ground­wa­ter flow lea­king to the sur­face is ruled out by experts, and ero­si­on of more than 300 m of solid rock would requi­re more than one gla­cia­ti­on peri­od, rough­ly equi­va­lent to 100,000 years, and even lon­ger time in case the­re won’t be any future peri­ods of major gla­cia­ti­on. In other words, it can be ruled out that the cae­si­um cap­su­le will appear at the sur­face due to natu­ral pro­ces­ses for a very long time.

Ano­ther fac­tor of the risk assess­ment is the half life of cae­si­um 137 which is 30.1 years. This means that alre­a­dy now the acti­vi­ty of the cae­si­um is redu­ced by more than 50 %. After a total of 10 half life peri­ods, a good 300 years in total, the remai­ning radia­ti­on is under the the­shold of detec­tion thres­hold and far from levels that might be a risk for health of envi­ron­ment. Con­side­ring all this, aut­ho­ri­ties and mining com­pa­ny have deci­ded to let the cae­si­um cap­su­le rest in peace whe­re it is. The only mea­su­re taken is to docu­ment the inci­dent and the whe­re­a­bouts so it is known to future gene­ra­ti­on that it might be a bad idea to dig a deep hole in that very posi­ti­on.

New rules coming in 2025

It’s the news we had been kind of wai­ting for. Kind of. Hoping they wouldn’t come in the end, at least not like this: the new rules are now sche­du­led to enter force on Janu­ary 01, 2025. From then on, Spits­ber­gen won’t be the same any­mo­re, with signi­fi­cant rest­ric­tions on the free­dom to move around over lar­ge parts of the archi­pe­la­go. The Nor­we­gi­an govern­ment published their decis­i­on today (Fri­day, Febru­ary 09).

It is lar­ge­ly exact­ly what had been put on the table well over two years ago, despi­te gre­at public inte­rest with a lot of input during the public hea­ring pro­cess. All this did obvious­ly not beco­me part of the decis­i­on as it was final­ly made. Obser­vers such as AECO and the local tou­rism orga­niza­ti­on in Lon­gye­ar­by­en have expres­sed their dis­ap­point­ment over what they con­sider a pro­cess whe­re the decis­i­on was made befo­re the public dis­cus­sion even star­ted. Many had main­tai­ned hopes that the govern­ment would recon­sider cer­tain parts of the ori­gi­nal pro­po­sal in the light of the hea­ring pro­cess and public dis­cus­sion, but this did cle­ar­ly not hap­pen.

Closing national parts, Spitsbergen

The are­as mark­ed red will lar­ge­ly be clo­sed from Janu­ary 2025.

The most important chan­ge for many will be that the lar­ge pro­tec­ted are­as, the natio­nal parks and natu­re reser­ves, will most­ly be clo­sed for tou­rists. The­se are­as com­pri­se appro­xi­m­ate­ly 65 % of the Spits­ber­gen archi­pe­la­go, as illus­tra­ted in the map.

The chan­ges

The over­view of the most important chan­ges as far as they are curr­ent­ly known:

  • Natio­nal parks and natu­re reser­ves will most­ly be clo­sed for tou­rists from 2025, except 43 loca­ti­ons sel­ec­ted by the govern­ment. This does not app­ly to indi­vi­du­al tra­vel­lers and locals.
  • Within natio­nal parks and natu­re reser­ves, ships may not car­ry more than 200 pas­sen­gers.
  • Dro­nes may not be used in pro­tec­ted are­as.
  • A speed limit of 5 knots appli­es within 500 met­res from cer­tain bird colo­nies.
  • Mini­mum distances from wal­rus hau­lout sites: 150 m for moto­ri­zed boats, maxi­mum speed 5 knots within 300 met­res.
  • Mini­mum distances from polar bears will be set, pro­ba­b­ly 300 or 500 met­res depen­ding on the sea­son.
  • Brea­king fast ice will be for­bidden, with excep­ti­ons for ship­ping rou­tes to Lon­gye­ar­by­en, Barents­burg, Ny-Åle­sund and for the coast guard.
  • Per­mis­si­on pro­ce­du­res for camps will be tigh­ten­ed.
  • Bans on moto­ri­zed traf­fic on fjord ice will be enhan­ced.

Some of the­se aspects are alre­a­dy to vary­ing degrees in force or com­mon good prac­ti­ce.

Con­se­quen­ces

Lar­ger ships within the seg­ment known as expe­di­ti­on crui­se ships, car­ry­ing bet­ween 100 and 200 pas­sen­gers, have in recent years alre­a­dy lar­ge­ly focus­sed on well-estab­lished stan­dard landing sites within the usu­al con­text of crui­ses of a week or so. The­se ships will pro­ba­b­ly be able to con­ti­nue their ope­ra­ti­ons with com­pa­ra­tively minor adjus­t­ments. And as for pri­ca­te yachts, not­hing may chan­ge for them at all. Tho­se who will be most serious­ly affec­ted are most likely small ships which ope­ra­te long trips of two weeks or even more, while rely­ing hea­vi­ly on a high degree of fle­xi­bi­li­ty when it comes to picking landing sites in the given con­text of wea­ther, ice and wild­life on a cer­tain day in a par­ti­cu­lar area. Their ope­ra­ti­on basis will lar­ge­ly vanish with the new regu­la­ti­ons.

Com­ment

Dis­clai­mer: I can not cla­im to be a neu­tral obser­ver. I am part of the tou­rism indus­try with a strong focus on small ships and long trips with many landings.

Having said that, I want to com­ment on the new regu­la­ti­ons from the per­spec­ti­ve of someone with com­pre­hen­si­ve prac­ti­cal expe­ri­ence in the said trade. Having this expe­ri­ence makes me a bia­sed, but, well, an expe­ri­en­ced obser­ver – that’s what comes with expe­ri­ence (and that’s pro­ba­b­ly about the only kind of fun­ny part of this text).

Let’s assu­me the the basic idea of the who­le pro­ject was to do some­thing to pro­tect natu­re. Con­side­ring the broa­der poli­ti­cal pic­tu­re, I am not even so sure about this. As we have seen in the recent past, Nor­way plans to deve­lop oil and gas also in the Barents Sea; some of the are­as we are tal­king about here will be open for com­mer­cial fishing also in the future, name­ly bot­tom traw­ling in waters deeper than 100 m in the Hin­lo­pen Strait; and Nor­way has recent­ly taken important steps towards deep-sea mining in lar­ge parts of the nor­the­ast Atlan­tic. Con­side­ring this who­le pic­tu­re, it seems ridi­cu­lous that tou­rists impo­se a thre­at to the envi­ron­ment that would jus­ti­fy clo­sing an area about the size of Den­mark.

This does, howe­ver, not mean that the­re wouldn’t be important tasks for poli­tics. More about that soon.

Tourists, Nordaustland

Small group hiking in a remo­te part of Nord­aus­t­land: not pos­si­ble any­mo­re from 2025.

The small num­ber of remai­ning landing sites will see hea­vy traf­fic main­ly from big­ger ships that will divi­de them among­st them­sel­ves well befo­re the sea­son starts pro­ba­b­ly by means of a pre-boo­king sys­tem that the indus­try will estab­lish based on sys­tems that area alre­a­dy in use. The idea of picking landing sites depen­ding on local con­di­ti­ons given on any par­ti­cu­lar day will beco­me obso­le­te, some­thing that is also a safe­ty issue, and not a small one. And pri­va­te yachts who are often lack­ing local expe­ri­ence and know­ledge of rele­vant local regu­la­ti­ons may con­ti­nue as they plea­se. It seems safe to assu­me that even more small sai­ling boats may in the future use the loopho­le of run­ning trips as pri­va­te which actual­ly are com­mer­cial. Small groups with poor manage­ment, be it becau­se of lack of know­ledge or out of igno­rance, have often pro­ven to be a grea­ter pro­blem for the envi­ron­ment than a well-mana­ged group of 50 or 100 tou­rists or even more.

Good poli­ti­cal manage­ment would estab­lish a balan­ce of quan­ti­ty – defi­ning upper limits – and qua­li­ty – defi­ning lower limits.

Of cour­se the­re would have been – and still is – the need and pos­si­bi­li­ty to intro­du­ce a good set of rules. It may seem obso­le­te now, but just to men­ti­on a few examp­les, as has been done many times in recent years by many peo­p­le and orga­ni­sa­ti­ons, often with a back­ground of com­pre­hen­si­ve rele­vent know­ledge and expe­ri­ence: it would be an opti­on to redu­ce pas­sen­gers num­bers even fur­ther, for exam­p­le to a maxi­mum of 100 pas­sen­gers per ship (just an exam­p­le – a lower num­ber could be con­side­red if it is accept­ed that quan­ti­ty is the main pro­blem) that puts tou­rists ashore any­whe­re. Also the num­ber of ships could be limi­t­ed. As in some natio­nal parks else­whe­re in the world, the num­ber of per­mits for ships could be limi­t­ed, ide­al­ly this should have been done in, say, 2010 or 2012, when a simi­lar dis­cus­sion was alre­a­dy going on but traf­fic was still on a com­pa­ra­tively lower level. It is the gro­wing num­ber of ships and tou­rists that we have seen sin­ce then that many are worried about, a con­cern shared to some degree by this aut­hor. So, if the num­ber of ships and tou­rists is con­side­red to be the key issue, why then not redu­ce the num­ber of ships and tou­rists? Why ins­tead redu­ce the qua­li­ty of the expe­ri­ence espe­ci­al­ly for tho­se ships who bring a minor frac­tion of total visi­tor num­bers, while lea­ving the lar­gest ships and the smal­lest boats in rela­ti­ve peace? Redu­cing the free­dom to land any­whe­re to a num­ber of well-sel­ec­ted com­pa­ra­tively robust landing sites (vege­ta­ti­on would be an important fac­tor in sel­ec­ting such sites) could be intro­du­ced for lar­ger ships which car­ry lar­ger pas­sen­ger num­bers which are more likely to dama­ge vege­ta­ti­on, while the­re is no need to rest­rict move­ments for a group of, say, twel­ve pas­sen­gers plus one or two gui­des.

Con­side­ring the abo­ve-men­tio­ned idea of defi­ning a lower limit for qua­li­ty, a thought-through, prac­ti­ca­ble gui­de cer­ti­fi­ca­ti­on sche­me would be the solu­ti­on, defi­ning a mini­mum level of rele­vant know­ledge that is available within any – any (befo­re someone gets real­ly mad with me: except locals) – group tra­vel­ling Spits­ber­gen out­side the sett­le­ments or, say, out­side manage­ment area 10 (a lar­ge area main­ly around Lon­gye­ar­by­en, cove­ring most of Isfjord and the land area south of Isfjord from the west coast almost to the east coast). Pro­blem sol­ved.

It is a pity that the chan­ce was missed to design a good regu­la­to­ry frame­work for sus­tainable qua­li­ty tou­rism. Secre­ta­ry of the envi­ron­ment Andre­as Bjel­land Erik­sen, in office sin­ce 2023, did not lea­ve the impres­si­on to be par­ti­cu­lar­ly know­led­geable about or inte­res­ted in the mat­ter when making comm­ents to Sval­bard­pos­ten.

Befo­re he took over in the minis­try of cli­ma­te and the envi­ron­ment, Erik­sen was, by the way, under­se­cre­ta­ry of sta­te in the minis­try of petro­le­um and ener­gy.

Fire in Lon­gye­ar­by­en

The­re was a fire in Lon­gye­ar­by­en yes­ter­day (Sun­day, Febru­ary 04) in the late after­noon in way 232 in Gru­ve­da­len, the part of Lon­gye­ar­by­en east of Sval­bard­mu­se­um.

Fire in Longyearbyen

The area whe­re a fire des­troy­ed a house in Lon­gye­ar­by­en on Sun­day.

Seve­ral buil­dings in the area were evacua­ted and the­re was a risk of the fire spre­a­ding to other hou­ses. But this could be pre­ven­ted by the fire bri­ga­de. Mayor Ter­je Aune­vik lau­ded their efforts with warm words.

Nevert­hel­ess, the fire des­troy­ed three flats com­ple­te­ly and fur­ther dama­ge could not yet be excluded on Mon­day mor­ning. Nobo­dy was inju­red. Not­hing is so far known about the cau­se of the fire.

The com­mu­ni­ty took swift efforts to take care of all con­cer­ned, but the loss of three flats is a hard blow on a housing mar­ket that is alre­a­dy dif­fi­cult, to put it mild­ly.

The last fire in Lon­gye­ar­by­en befo­re Sunday’s was in Sep­tem­ber 2022, when three hou­ses with altog­e­ther 12 flats were com­ple­te­ly des­troy­ed. Also then, lucki­ly nobo­dy was inju­red.

Emer­gen­cy ser­vices affec­ted by wea­ther

Last week’s storm over north Nor­way influen­ced not only traf­fic in gene­ral, but also public emer­gen­cy ser­vices. Seve­ral times, pla­nes from and to Lon­gye­ar­by­en had to can­cel the sche­du­led sto­po­ver in Trom­sø.

Longyearbyen Airport: flight schedule hit by weather

Lon­gye­ar­by­en Air­port: both sche­du­led and other flights depend on flight wea­ther also in north Nor­way.

This is any­thing but unhe­ard of in an area with fre­quent rough wea­ther con­di­ti­ons such as north Nor­way, but it makes clear how remo­te Sval­bard still is today espe­ci­al­ly when it comes to emer­gen­cy ser­vices. In such con­di­ti­ons, medi­cal evacua­tions to the main­land may be impos­si­ble for seve­ral days. This may espe­ci­al­ly be the case when only smal­ler pro­pel­ler-dri­ven aero­pla­nes are available, rather than more robust jet air­craft.

The local hos­pi­tal in Lon­gye­ar­by­en is small and ser­vices available the­re are com­pa­ra­tively basic. In urgent cases, pati­ents are flown to the uni­ver­si­ty hos­pi­tal in Trom­sø. The­re was a case as recent­ly as ear­ly Janu­ary when a pati­ent could not be flown out when nee­ded, he had to be taken care of local­ly until flight con­di­ti­ons were bet­ter the next day. In a case in 2022, a pati­ent with heart pro­blems had to wait 8 hours for the emer­gen­cy pla­ne. In this case, the out­co­me was sad­ly fatal.

This situa­ti­on also worries local aut­ho­ri­ties: the Sys­sel­mes­ter reques­ted alre­a­dy more than once a relia­ble 24/7 available emer­gen­cy ser­vice from respon­si­ble main­land aut­ho­ri­ties, accor­ding to Sval­bard­pos­ten.

The future ener­gy of the Arc­tic

And again, it is about ener­gy, far from the first time on the­se pages. It is an important deba­te in Lon­gye­ar­by­en, has been so for a while and this won’t chan­ge at any time soon.

Last autumn, Longyearbyen’s old and out­da­ted coal power plant was final­ly shut down and repla­ced with die­sel gene­ra­tors which now sup­p­ly the appro­xi­m­ate­ly 2,500 inha­bi­tants, com­pa­nies and infra­struc­tu­re with elec­tri­ci­ty and long-distance hea­ting.

Die­sel is not exact­ly a sus­tainable and envi­ron­men­tal­ly fri­end­ly solu­ti­on, neither is it cheap. The high cos­ts are curr­ent­ly a mat­ter of hot deba­te; plans of the com­mu­ni­ty coun­cil to let the four lar­gest ener­gy con­su­mers car­ry all the extra cos­ts are not met with gre­at enthu­si­asm as one might expect. If the pri­ce increase, as it is curr­ent­ly cal­cu­la­ted, is to be paid for by all con­su­mers, then the ener­gy pri­ces might well tri­ple. In 2023, the pri­ce for pri­ve house­holds (up to 10,000 kWh per year) was 2,42 kro­ner (ca. 0.21 Euro) – plus an annu­al basic fee of 2883 kro­ner (255 Euro).

It is feared that tri­pling the pri­ce may well force com­pa­nies to clo­se and popu­la­ti­on to lea­ve.

Part of the tech­ni­cal chall­enge is that, in con­trast to “nor­mal” places, it is not pos­si­ble to link Longyearbyen’s ener­gy infra­struc­tu­re to a lar­ger regio­nal net­work. It is not pos­si­ble to use any­thing that alre­a­dy exists in the area, becau­se Lon­gye­ar­by­en is com­ple­te­ly iso­la­ted and far away from the rest of the world.

But this is a chall­enge that Lon­gye­ar­by­en shares with hundreds of other small places all over the Arc­tic. Good reason for doing rese­arch about pos­si­ble solu­ti­ons to find out what the future ener­gy of the Arc­tic might look like.

Isfjord Radio, Kapp Linné: arctic energy supply of the future

Isfjord Radio at Kapp Lin­né: for­mer sta­ti­on for coas­tal radio and com­mu­ni­ca­ti­on,
now wil­der­ness hotel and labo­ra­to­ry for ener­gy solu­ti­ons in iso­la­ted places.

Such rese­arch is being done at Kapp Lin­né, the loca­ti­on of the old radio sta­ti­on Isfjord Radio. The radio and other com­mu­ni­ca­ti­on infra­struc­tu­re are not in use any­mo­re sin­ce Sval­bard is con­nec­ted to main­land Nor­way with a glass fib­re cable. But the buil­dings have been used for a wil­der­ness hotel sin­ce the late 1990s. The owner of the place is the Store Nor­ske Spits­ber­gen Kul­kom­pa­ni (short Store Nor­ske or SNSK), most­ly known as the Nor­we­gi­an coal mining com­pa­ny that ran the mines in Lon­gye­ar­by­en (still ope­ra­ti­ve) and Sveagru­va (clo­sed). The hotel is run by Base­camp Spits­ber­gen.

The place has seve­ral cha­rac­te­ristics that make it sui­ta­ble as a labo­ra­to­ry to test ener­gy solu­ti­ons: it is very small with with only a small handfull of peo­p­le as a “per­ma­ment” popu­la­ti­on, and even when hotel capa­ci­ties are ful­ly used the popu­la­ti­on increa­ses to only a few dozen peo­p­le. The­re are no other con­su­mers.

The point is not to deve­lop com­ple­te­ly new tech­no­lo­gy, but to estab­lish sys­tems whe­re the com­pon­ents are all based on exis­ting tech­no­lo­gy which in its­elf is tried and tes­ted. Cen­tral con­trol and bat­tery sys­tems are con­side­red essen­ti­al. In a first pha­se, a pho­to­vol­taic sys­tem instal­led in 2023 stands for a lar­ge part of the ener­gy requi­re­ment. This may sur­pri­se in an area that does not get any sun­light at all for about 4 months per year. But the hotel is clo­sed during the dark peri­od, and then, a block of bat­te­ries and a heat sto­rage tank can buf­fer at least some of the varia­ti­ons. Die­sel gene­ra­tors take care of the rest, but this is alre­a­dy enough to redu­ce the die­sel con­sump­ti­on by 70 %, as Store Nor­ske told Sval­bard­pos­ten.

In the next pha­se, wind power is expec­ted to increase the frac­tion of rene­wa­ble ener­gies in the total mix to 90 %, but this is still mat­ter of nego­tia­ti­ons with aut­ho­ri­ties. The­re are legal obs­ta­cles as Isfjord Radio is a pro­tec­ted cul­tu­ral heri­ta­ge site and the­re is a bird sanc­tua­ry right next to it.

An ener­gy sup­p­ly of 100 % rene­wa­bles is, with cur­rent know­ledge and tech­no­lo­gy, not pos­si­ble. This would requi­re a regio­nal ener­gy net­work that does not exist. In ful­ly iso­la­ted places, a back­up of die­sel gene­ra­tors will be requi­red to gua­ran­tee ener­gy sup­p­ly at any time, but the­se at some stage may be run with bio­fuels or hydro­ge­ne. But this is curr­ent­ly mere­ly a dream of the future. On the other hand, a die­sel reduc­tion of 70 % with the pro­s­pect of a fur­ther reduc­tion to 90 % appears as a good suc­cess.

The idea is to use the know­ledge thus estab­lished else­whe­re, in Lon­gye­ar­by­en and other places in the Arc­tic. Lon­gye­ar­by­en alre­a­dy has a cou­ple of smal­ler pho­to­vol­taic sys­tems, the lar­gest one so far is at the air­port.

And other places are also inte­res­ted: despi­te the poli­ti­cal ice age, the Rus­si­ans in Barents­burg have alre­a­dy cont­ac­ted the com­mu­ni­ty in Lon­gye­ar­by­en and expres­sed the desi­re to estab­lish a dia­lo­gue to exch­an­ge know­ledge about sus­tainable local ener­gy solu­ti­ons, a desi­re gene­ral­ly met with bene­vo­lence in Lon­gye­ar­by­en.

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