The BBC Winterwatch team were filmng in Mar Lodge Estate, a scenic, mountainous and remote area in the Cairngorms National Park.
The film crew’s objective was to position remote cameras and recording equipment at two separate locations on the estate approximately 3km away from its main operating site. The production team chose one site close to where a pair of Golden Eagles had been spotted and another to record the courtship ritual of Black Grouse.
Due to the remoteness of the filming sites, mains power, usually supplied by the electricity grid, was unavailable and diesel generators would have proved too noisy and cumbersome. Diesel generators would have also produced unnecessary carbon emissions in an area recognised as one of Britain’s most important nature conservation landscapes. In locations such as this, batteries are often regarded as the most suitable power solution. However, batteries will only supply a limited amount of power before they discharge and need changing. If the film crew was to capture these extremely rare wildlife events then regular site visits had to be avoided at all costs.
Instead the crew elected to work with fuel cells to provide nine days of continuous power for the remote cameras and audio and video codecs. This allowed the film crew to maintain remote video, audio and camera control via a fibre optic cable, while minimising disturbance to both sites.
Fuel cells run silently and can be left in situ for long periods of time without refuelling. This allowed the BBC Winterwatch film crew to obtain some excellent rare footage of a pair of Golden Eagles arriving and roosting in a tree along with some unusual footage of Black Grouse courtship rituals.
Fuel Cell Systems supplied two EFOY Pro 2400 fuel cells, each powered with 10 litres of methanol fuel (M10) to provide a reliable source of off-grid power. As the batteries dropped below their floating charge of 12.5 volts, power was automatically supplied from the fuel cells, allowing them to be constantly topped up.
Each fuel cell was housed in specially adapted ‘Peli’ cases, designed to offer ventilation, water drainage, power access, protection and safe transportation for the sensitive outside broadcast equipment.