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.