If there is one place on our planet that can be said to be relatively free from human impact, that would probably be the Antarctic continent. With this in mind, the government of Belgium commissioned the International Polar Foundation to design and operate a new research station, the Princess Elisabeth Antarctica. The goal? To make it the first zero-emission station in the world.

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The Princess Elisabeth Antarctica station is designed with the environment in mind. It will be built using eco-friendly materials, as well as to minimize energy consumption and waste. Furthermore, it will operate completely on renewable energies. The station will be located in a small ridge near the Utsteinen nunatak and a few kilometers from the Sør Rondane mountain range. The team will install eight wind turbines on the ridge, as well as approximately 380 square meters of solar panels on and nearby the station.

Because using renewable energy is just one side of the equation, the Princess Elisabeth Antarctica will use only 20% of the energy used by a comparable station. Heating will be done via a mixture of passive and active systems, including a heat recovery system that will take all the heat generated by the equipment and redistribute it around the base.

Virtually everyone living in Antarctica is conscious of the impact that they have just by virtue of being there. Indeed, Nunatak, one of the bands that played at the Live Earth concert a few months ago, is composed of research scientists working on the continent. To see major players in Antarctica commit to the continent’s environment is truly wonderful. The station will become operational next year.

+ Princess Elisabeth Antarctica