The First Zero-Emissions Research Station in Antarctic Goes Online

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The Princess Elisabeth research station went online in Antarctica yesterday, marking the first zero-emissions facility on the Antarctic continent, as the nations operating there begin to take a more environmentally friendly approach to conducting their studies.

The station was built by the Belgian government, after tasking the International Polar Foundation, founded by Alain Hubert and Professors André Berger and Hugo Decleir to design a state of the art facility that not only studies climate change but also limits its own footprint. The Princess Elisabeth also happens to be the first project of its kind completed in a single austral summer, during 2007-2008.

As part of the “zero emissions” approach, the station also uses only renewable energy sources, with power generated by the wind. It’s also been built from the ground up to be ecologically friendly and energy efficient, with great care taken to limit its impact on the environment its been designed to study. Up to 16 scientists can be housed in the facility, which is expected to begin conducting its first experiments later this year.

The Princess Elisabeth is a very cool project. First, it looks like something out of a science fiction movie, and secondly I think it’s great that Belgium has taken these steps to create a sustainable laboratory that can continue to explore and research Antarctica while leaving as little impact on the place as possible.

Photos by R. Robert / International Polar Foundation

Update: This video was passed along in the comments by Louis-Philippe Loncke, who is rightfully proud of his country’s new research station. This gives us a glimpse of what it is like inside.

Kraig Becker

5 thoughts on “The First Zero-Emissions Research Station in Antarctic Goes Online”

  1. Was built in 3 phases:
    BELARE expeidtions:
    antarctic summer 2006-07: find the place, check out, make some foundations + 1 windmill

    2007-08: built of external shell of station + other windmills

    2008-09: built the inside facilities, the end of garages for vehicles (they still use petrol of course) and solar panels.

    only sad thing is: 40 people came for the opening to antartica for only 3 days including journey by plane. cost per person 24.000 EUR, CO2 emissions ? dunno.

    I’m Belgian and proud of this station, i hope one day i can go there and maybe stay a year to check how the station is performing during the winter (and read a lot 🙂 ) but I sincerely think it was badly spend money and stupid consumption for that 1 single day.

    End of the true story. I think we all needed to know the small dark side of it.

  2. Thanks for the detailed info Louis-Philippe! I’d love to visit the place some day as well.

    You’re right, that’s a lot of money and CO2 emissions just to get the press there to see the site. They should have invited us, we could have covered it and made the trip on skis! 😉

    Great look at the inside as well. I’m going to add the video to the original post. Thanks!

  3. and this last one, about some glaciologists. One was with me at school when i was 15. It was his 3rd time is Antarctica.

    Great to learn what they do over there. Also everyone from every country can go to do research in the Belgian station of course. I dunno how to apply but shouldn’t be too hard to find.

    ULB on Ice (free university of brussels)

    enjoy !

    By the way, last time i visited the glaciolocy dpt, we all shared some whisky…as we had no fridge with ice, we took some drilled ice from 3000 years old from greenland. MAybe not pure malt, but pure ice !

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