Antarctica’s first zero emission research station shows what’s possible

This article originally featured in The Skylark’s newsletter and was written as a condensed news in brief.

Antarctica’s only zero-emission research base, the Princess Elisabeth Antarctica Research Station in East Antarctica, shows that sustainable living is possible in even the harshest environments.

Usually, polar research bases are powered by fossil fuel generators despite the constant wind and persistent sunlight in summer months. But freezing temperatures mean concrete can’t set for wind turbine foundations and ice forms on solar panels.

However, the Princess Elisabeth, staffed during the summer season (Oct to Mar) has broken the mould. Almost every inch is covered in solar panels, high above the drifting snow. Set on a thin granite ridge, turbines are drilled directly into the rock negating the need for large concrete foundations. Nine layers of insulation keep the biting Antarctic cold out and a strict hierarchy of energy use maintains efficiency (fire alarms and satellite communications first, showers and iPods last).

It’s not fancy, but the Princess Elisabeth shows that if sustainability can be achieved in the most remote and harshest environments in the world, it can be done anywhere.

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