Princess Elisabeth Research Station, Antarctica
International Polar Foundation Princess Elisabeth Research Station, Antarctica

The Princess Elisabeth Research Station in Antarctica, profiled in July 2009 as an Innovative Green Project, is now operating entirely on renewable energies. Designed, constructed, and operated by the International Polar Foundation (IPF), the Antarctica station reached its “zero emission” target through an energy management system designed by Laborelec, and a programmable logic controller (PLC), dubbed the “brain” of the station, developed by Schneider Electric. The PLC continuously manages the station’s energy demand and prioritizes its needs.

The station operates on a combination of wind and solar power. Nine 9-meter-high wind turbines atop the mountain ridge to the station’s north generate a total of 54 KWh of electricity, are directly connected to a direct-drive generator, and are outfitted with self-regulating rotors to adapt to changes in wind intensity and direction. An array of photovoltaic solar panels provide 50.6 kWh of power. A total of 408 PV panels are attached the station’s walls and roof as well as on the roof of the station’s technical building. In addition, the station features 24-square-meters of thermal solar panels that are oriented to the north to optimize sunlight. One series of these panels on the station’s roof generate heat for water used in the kitchen, bathroom, and water treatment unit, while another section on top of the garages provides heat to melt snow as a source of drinking water. A battery grid of four double vale-regulated lead acid batter packs stores and releases energy produced by the wind turbines and solar panels.

Also contributing to the building’s efficiency are the station’s outer skin, insulation, shape, orientation, and window disposition.  The geometry of the station allows it to benefit from both solar passive and active gain, while the thermal insulation minimizes heat loss through the walls and floor. Each side panel on the station’s walls is made up of seven layers, totaling 60-cm in thickness. The envelope also is lined with EPDM, a synthetic rubber lining membrane to prevent air leaks, and three efficient ventilation units maintain indoor air quality levels of the air-tight structure.


Click here to read the original July 2009 round up of innovative green projects.