If there is one thing guaranteed to irritate a Falkland Islander, it’s saying that their weather is rubbish.
Perhaps the issue is a proxy for all the ways in which their international image has been defined by the 1982 conflict (74 days, nearly 30 years ago), a reputation frozen in time despite all the progress the country has made. The war took place in one of their toughest winters, leaving a legacy of television archive footage and photo libraries showing leaden skies that have been used ever since. Or perhaps, an obsession with weather is a legacy of the British inhabitants from who they descended.
Whatever the case, it is not a grey place. The weather is best described as ‘entertaining’ – changing by the minute. In the week we’ve been here, we’ve managed to get sunburned, drenched, get battered by hail and enjoy glorious crisp skies. But above all, we have been buffeted. For the Falklands are definitely windy.
The country has harnessed this natural resource with a wind farm of just six turbines, which provide more than half of their electricity needs, making Stanley the most wind-powered capital city in the world.
Small communities with relatively low energy demands have a particular problem in exploiting wind power efficiently: The sudden surges produced by strong gusts threaten to overload their grid - a doubling of the windspeed results in a quadrupling of electricity output. The FI solution is to deliberately limit the maximum output of any single turbine and combine them with their old diesel generators to create an integrated system.
By doing this, they regularly manage to generate more than 50% of their power from wind and with some further tinkering and an investment in flywheel storage, aim to get the figure much higher.