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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Belgium Unveils Polar Research Station

BRUSSELS -- The Belgian-based International Polar Foundation on Wednesday unveiled what it claimed to be the world's first zero-emissions polar science station to conduct research in Antarctica on climate change.

The Princess Elisabeth station will be a totally energy self-sufficient research base that will allow scientists to study the impact of climate change in one of the world's most inhospitable environments, scientists said.

The 12 million euro ($16.3 million) prefabricated station will be transferred to the South Pole from Belgium, where it was built, by ship later this month.

"This base will be the first of its kind to produce zero emissions, making it a unique model of how energy should be used in the Antarctic," said Belgian polar explorer Alain Hubert, who helped create the foundation, which researches the impact of climate change on polar caps.

Hubert said research at the base, which has an octagonal spaceship-like design and sits on stilts, would focus on the analysis of ice shelves, which are used to record global climate conditions.

Johan Berte, who manages the project, said the station could be a blueprint for future stations in Antarctica, where strict guidelines demand that scientists do as much as they can to prevent pollution from damaging the environment. Older and existing stations are powered by costly, and environmentally damaging, fuel shipments.

The Princess Elisabeth's roof will be covered with solar panels, designed to provide the bulk of energy needed to run the isolated post. Other energy sources will come from large wind turbines.

The station will be nestled on a ridge a few kilometers north of the Soer Rondane Mountains, and will form part of a network of stations with Russia and Japan, which have stations nearby.

"The biggest challenge will be to unload on the Antarctic continent," Berte said.