Chilean Antarctic bases switch to “green” power | Polarjournal
The “Profesor Julio Escudero” station is Chile’s most important Antarctic base, with capacity for 54 people and multidisciplinary laboratories and aquariums. The station is the first to go green in terms of energy supply. Photo: Chilean Antarctic Institute INACH

Some research stations in Antarctica already obtain part of their energy requirements from renewable sources, especially wind power. However, the emission-free energy generated is far from reaching the level needed to supply the stations with sufficient heat and electricity. As a result, most of the energy still comes from fossil fuels. Chile now wants to make energy generation at its Antarctic stations much more environmentally friendly, and so the Chilean Antarctic Institute INACH, in cooperation with the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) and Antarctica 21 Fooundation, is looking into Some research stations in Antarctica already obtain part of their energy needs from renewable sources, especially wind power. However, the emission-free energy generated is still far from sufficient to provide the stations with sufficient heat and electricity. As a result, most of the energy still comes from fossil fuels. Chile now wants to make energy generation at its Antarctic stations much more environmentally friendly, and so the Chilean Antarctic Institute INACH, in cooperation with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and the Antarctica 21 Foundation, is examining suitable alternative energy sources.

Chile has already been working with GIZ since 2014 on the production of green hydrogen from renewable energy sources in the country. The conditions for wind and solar energy are optimal in Chile’s Atacama Desert. According to Rainer Schröer, the head of the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Program at GIZ, Chile recorded the world’s largest percentage expansion of renewable energy in the power sector between 2015 and 2018.

Now, the successes in green energy production in the country will be brought to Chilean stations in Antarctica, favoring energy from green hydrogen and its derivatives. Dr. Marcelo Leppe, director of the Chilean Antarctic Institute, explains, “This concern is in line with the renovation of three of our Inach bases, that gives priority to an environment-friendly design, including the way we generate energy for the whole operation, and thus the significance of developing green hydrogen.”
The station “Profesor Julio Escudero” on King George Island north of the Antarctic Peninsula will make the transition first.

The German Antarctic research station Neumayer III gets about 12 percent of its energy from wind power, the rest is provided by fossil fuels. Image: Alfred Wegener Institute / Thomas Steuer

Jaime Vázquez, president of the Antarctica 21 Foundation, whose mission includes promoting the protection of the Antarctic ecosystem, is sure “that the production potential of green hydrogen in the Magallanes Region and Chilean Antarctica offers concrete opportunities to boost the energy transition in the Chilean bases.”

Rainer Schröer adds that “Germany’s commitment is to support the energy transition in Chile, and thus the initiative has a very positive impact which will benefit this unique continent, which we must protect and preserve, and will be a reference for other countries to migrate to systems with zero emissions.”

Julia Hager, PolarJournal

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