Brussels, 01 Jun 2006
The International Polar Foundation (IPF) unveiled its final plans for the first polar station to be powered solely by renewable sources of energy at a site in the Antarctic on 31 May.
Commissioned by the Belgian government, the Princess Elisabeth Antarctic Station will serve as a research centre on climate change and Antarctica's key role as part of the global climate system. It will open at the end of 2007, during the International Polar Year. Once constructed, the station will be able to house 20 scientists during the summer season .It will be based between the Russian station Novolazarevskaya, and the Japanese Station, Syowa, in the Dronning Maud Land Region.
The IPF design plans are based around the use of renewable energy sources in order to meet most of the energy requirements, and wastewater treatment methods to minimise environmental contamination. Sponsors and technology partners will be sought to equip the station with cutting-edge materials and technologies that conform to eco-construction principles, aiming to reduce the environmental impact of establishing the new base.
'The Princess Elisabeth station will represent international best practice in being entirely run on renewable energy and in completely recycling all waste,' said Alain Hubert, Chairman of the IPF. 'When we know already that we need to live more sustainably to avoid drastic climate change, we must certainly research sustainably in the Antarctic.
The construction of the base is expected to cost around 6.4 million euro, of which two million euro has already been committed by the Belgian Government. The remainder will be found by the IPF through private sector sponsorship and public donations. The Belgian government will also contribute three million euro for the station's management and research programme in 2008 and 2009.
Countries of the Antarctic Treaty, namely Japan, Sweden, Germany, and Norway, have also offered their expertise in logistics and various technical areas.
During the development and construction process, the IPF will pursue its objectives of educating and informing on research in the polar regions, on climate change and on sustainable development. After its construction the base will be maintained and operated by the Belgian Federal Science Policy Office (BELSPO). The office will be responsible for designing the science programme and selecting teams of scientists.