Russian scientists working on carbon-free Arctic station

A futuristic research station operating on renewable energy sources may appear in the Russian Arctic. If scientists from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology find investors, they expect to implement the project as soon as in 2022.

Russia is considering building a new-generation year-round Arctic station, says Worldcrunch. The station called Snowflake is meant to become the centre of both scientific and economic development of Arctic territories in times of global warming. The project is developed by the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT).

The station is supposed to be located on the Yamal Peninsula in northwest Siberia. These territories have been poorly developed by humans except for natural gas extraction sites, which account for about 20% of Russian reserves. Now the land here is becoming more accessible to research and human use due to global warming. According to scientists, Snowflake won’t rely on hydrocarbons and pollute the environment. It is partly based on Belgian Princess Elisabeth Antarctica station built in 2009. The latter operates in zero-emission mode, as solar panels and wind generators provide the required energy. The Russian station is meant to use hydrogen and renewable energy sources including wind turbines and solar panels. Hydrogen will be produced from water and primarily used in the cold season, while from April to September the station will be able to operate mainly on wind and solar energy.

Russian drifting station North Pole-36, August 2009. Photo: Pink floyd88 a

MIPT’s scientists intend to focus the station on technological solutions in the fields of construction, artificial intelligence, telecommunications, medicine, agriculture, robotics and life support systems in the Arctic. In Soviet times, information about the region was provided by drifting stations, which were shut down by the beginning of the 1990s. In 2003, Russia resumed drifting stations, they are becoming less and less viable, as the ice layer is no longer thick enough. The new station is supposed to stand on solid ground instead of the disappearing ice.

Russian scientific institutes are on the cutting edge of Arctic-related technologies, says Executive Director of the Institute of Arctic Technology of MIPT Yury Vasilyev. However, who will pay for the implementation of the project remains unclear. While the Arctic is one of our planet’s most resource-rich territories, its exploration requires significant investment. Thus, northern territories can only be developed as business projects with the most promising of them in the field of high technology. For now, Snowflake is just a digital model, but the scientists hope to implement the project in 2022.

By Anna Litvina