Solar energy and a wind generator installed on Tristan da Cunha in the 1980s were expensive failures.

Tristan da Cunha's 1980s Renewable Energy Projects

Tristan da Cunha 1980s Renewable Energy Projects
as the Tristan da Cunha Government pioneered alternative energy supplies without any success

Solar Power

The first phase of Tristan da Cunha's
1980s renewable energy project
were a series of solar panels
attached to the north-facing roofs
of several Colt Bungalows that housed expatriate workers.

This house was later destroyed in a fire
but the panel in the photograph
contributed no addition to heating of water
by bottled gas when this 1982 photo was taken,
despite claims that it worked previously!
Wind Generator
including extracts from Tristan Times

In 1982 a very expensive wind generator,
manufactured by the Danish company Windmatic
selected and installed by the UK Cranfield Institute of Technology was erected amid great rejoicing and hope for cheaper electricity on 14th April 1982 on the plateau above at Hottentot Point. Perhaps a bad omen was that Cranfield's employee had to leave the island before it was fully operational.

There was a confident belief that the prevailing north-west winds would produce enough electricity to considerably reduce imports of diesel used in the factory generators,
quickly re-coup capital costs, and ensure Tristan da Cunha
became a model of renewable energy.

In November 1982 there was some guarded optimism for the project when 2910kw of electricity was produced. Nevertheless this represented a pay back of 23 years on capital costs without local labour or on-going maintenance which included fixing new side vanes (parts of the old pair blew away) and mending worn out disc breaks.
Photos show the turbine being erected in April 1982 and as a backdrop to a Golf Match later in the year

Unfortunately the turbine was destroyed during a gale 408 days after being installed when a wild but not exceptional gale backed from NE to WNW early in the morning of 26th May 1983 and laid wreck to the Settlement's most elegant and expensive landmark.
The entire upper section including generating motor, main sails, cogwheel and side sails were wrenched from the metal tower and dispersed over a wide area.

The photo left shows the turbine's gantry minus the three main blades which became airborne before threatening houses
and with the turbine engine smashed on the ground with the
subsidiary blades (used to adjust the angle at which the device faces the wind). It is understood the blades were locked at a disastrous angle to the wind during the gale
which caused the structure to break up.

During the Island Council Meeting of 2nd August 1983 Chief Islander Albert Glass said that 'the wind turbine had never functioned properly from the day it was installed. There had been almost continuous problems with it and it was now damaged beyond repair. He considered that the island had been badly served in this matter, not only by Windmatic, but also by Cranfield and the British Government which had backed the scheme. Over £70,000 (of Tristan Government money) had been spent in a useless project and the Council wanted all or most of the money refunded.' The Chief Islander's view was unanimously agreed and negotiations started to arrange compensation.

The March 1984 Tristan Times reported that Tristan was still encountering problems in receiving any compensation for its ill-fated £70,000 wind turbine venture. St Helena Governor John Massingham met with UK Minister of Overseas development Sir Neil Martin to lobby for compensation to be paid. The article continued 'The Tristan view is that the island was actively encouraged by the FCO and ODA (Overseas Development Administration) to go ahead with a project that went disastrously wrong.'

It is understood no compensation was received for the failure of the wind generator. So scepticism of committing similar large capital expenditure by the Island Council is likely to continue.

Therefore the fact that Enviroconsult's trial of two renewable energy systems in 2015
is being funded through the EU Development Fund will be welcomed on the island: see 2015 Renewable Energy Project