Snowflake International
Arctic Station
The year-round Snowflake International Arctic Station powered by renewables and hydrogen, diesel-free. This is a unique vehicle for international cooperation between engineers, researchers and scientists.
About project
Snowflake IAS is a fully autonomous year-round diesel-free facility powered by renewable energy sources and hydrogen fuel.

It is envisioned as a unique new platform for international cooperation between engineers, researchers, scientists and students working on bold solutions that constitute a basis for life and work in the Arctic.

The purpose of the facility is to enable Russian and foreign partners to test and demonstrate environmentally friendly life support technologies, new materials, smart home and smart village systems, as well as biotech, medical, robotic and AI-driven solutions.

The station is also a vehicle for supporting joint research on climate change, ecology and environmental pollution, including that of the oceans.

Functioning as a "living laboratory" IAS will provide a technological and economic foundation to scale up the newly developed solutions for widespread use.
The modular structure of the 2,000-square-meter facility allows for gradual expansion.

Main units:

  • Two laboratory modules — minilabs and workshops for safely testing and demonstrating technological solutions, small-scale office spaces.

  • The main and panoramic modules — teleconferencing, presentations, forums, lectures and seminars; areas for exhibits and shared leisure of guests, a library and a 360° observation deck.

  • Central module — a dining hall plus kitchen, a small cafe and a medical room.

  • Two residential and a sports module — rooms for comfortable accommodation and individual work, a gym and a sauna.

  • Utility module — conversion of hydrogen energy to electricity and heat, autonomous life support systems.

  • Hydrogen modules — hydrogen generation and storage.
The Land of Hope
For many generations, the ancient Nenets clan of Nerkagis has abided in this settlement in the scenic foothills of the Polar Urals, bordered by Baydaratskaya Tundra in the north. The family's matriarch, Anna Nerkagi, is a famous writer and social activist, who works with orphaned children. She lives on a peasant farm she created in the Land of Hope. The settlement is currently a site for experimental teaching of native children who live a nomadic life with their parents.

In Russian, this type of a community is called a factoria. That old-fashioned term traditionally referred to trading posts where roaming deer herders sold or exchanged their wares. In fact, the Land of Hope functions that way to this day. While over 700 residents are officially registered here, the permanent population does not exceed 50 individuals. Reindeer herders roaming the tundra and the mountains come here to receive medical attention and buy food or other goods.

This land, which a small northern people made its home, painstakingly warmed in the face of harsh living conditions, has been chosen to create a new language for communicating with the austere, yet vulnerable Arctic. This is why the project team puts an extra emphasis on harmonizing the presence of a high-tech facility with the everyday life and traditions of the indigenous population. In addition to their joint work at the station, Snowflake's visitors will get to know the culture of the northern people of Yamal. Tours are planned for school and university students, as well as engaging media to report on life in the Arctic. Besides that, the station offers a venue for producing educational and popular science films, setting up media broadcasts and developing international tourism.
Initiator of the project
The Arctic facility is created on the initiative of the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT) with the support of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry for the Development of the Russian Far East and Arctic, the governor of Yamal and the EnergyNet infrastructure center of the National Technology Initiative.

The MIPT Institute of Arctic Technology (IAT) implements the Arctic technology program together with its academic and industrial partners.

The Engineering Center for Autonomous Arctic Energy — a division of MIPT IAT — is the initiator and contractor of the project to establish Russia's first commercial hybrid power plant, to be commissioned in 2020 in Laborovaya, Yamal. The new facility will enable phasing out the less efficient diesel generation and reduce the cost of producing electricity. The hybrid plant will combine wind and solar energy, and use lithium-ion energy storage, thermal accumulators and variable-speed diesel generators, as well as advanced power electronics and automated control systems leveraging artificial intelligence technology.

Building on the Laborovaya project, a program is in development to modernize dozens of similarly inefficient diesel-driven power plants in remote off-grid settlements in the Arctic, Siberia and the Russian Far East. That program is envisioned with private investors in mind.

The chief partner of MIPT on Yamal is the Russian Center for Arctic Development, a nonprofit established to coordinate and systematize Arctic research and train highly qualified specialists. As a socially oriented organization, the center participates in environmental and outreach projects. This includes mounting research expeditions and setting up a network of accommodation units — compact modules that serve as living quarters for personnel doing research on the peninsula.
AHEAD - international cooperation
The proposal to establish Snowflake IAS powered by carbon-free energy was initiated by Russia in the Arctic Council's Sustainable Development Working Group (SDWG). The project title is Arctic Hydrogen Energy Applications and Demonstrations (AHEAD).

Below is a list of the Arctic Council SDWG projects with potential for IAS-based collaboration:

  • Arctic Remote Energy Networks Academy II (ARENA II),

  • Arctic Renewable Energy Atlas (AREA),

  • Arctic Sustainable Energy Futures Toolkit II,

  • Solid Waste Management in Small Arctic Communities,

  • Zero Arctic: Concepts for Carbon Neutral Arctic Construction Based on Tradition,

  • Arctic Indigenous Youth, Climate Change and Food Culture (EALLU),

  • One Arctic — One Health,

  • Arctic Children: Preschool Education and Smooth Transition to School,

  • Arctic Food Innovation Cluster (AFIC),

  • Blue Bioeconomy in the Arctic Region,

  • Local 2 Global: Circumpolar Collaboration for Suicide Prevention and Mental Wellness,

  • Gender Equality in the Arctic (GEA),

  • Economy of the North (ECONOR)

  • and others.
The international cooperation will go beyond the Arctic Council member states and engage organizations representing the Arctic's indigenous peoples, as well as the observer nations that have no direct access to the Arctic but are interested in a comprehensive collaboration based on the new four-season facility in the northern latitudes.

The possible formats for IAS-based international cooperation include sending in research teams, testing and demonstrating the equipment provided by companies, allocating funds toward building and fitting the facility, and organizing events at the station, among others options.

One of the more obvious possibilities for cooperation is engaging UArctic, a network of over 200 colleges and universities actively collaborating on a range of research and academic programs in the region. Among its member institutions, more than 40 represent Russia.

The Snowflake International Arctic Station is intended as a part of the International Network for Terrestrial Research and Monitoring in the Arctic (INTERACT). Other partner ties to be expected are with the international Arctic centers, such as the VTT Technical Research Centre in Finland, the Alaska Center for Energy and Power (ACEP) in the U.S., the Ramea Wind-Hydrogen-Diesel Energy Project in Canada and others.
Preliminary budget
Key expenditures:

  • Station design, construction and fitting with the necessary equipment and hardware. This includes building a hydrogen power plant, a wind farm, a solar station and the infrastructure, as well as purchasing tracked passenger and freight vehicles to establish a transport connection with Salekhard and the airport. Development of a test site for hydrogen energy and autonomous life support systems.

  • Work of the project's team with Russian and foreign partners regarding their roles in establishing and developing the station. This encompasses setting up exhibition stands at Arctic forums in Russia and abroad, as well as organizing international delegation visits to the site of Snowflake IAS, including for the opening ceremony.

The preliminary budget of the project for the creation and full-fledged launch of the facility is estimated at 10-12 million euros.
Hydrogen energy preliminary goals and objectives
Below are the preliminary goals and objectives of the AHEAD project as regards hydrogen energy for comfortable carbon-free Arctic habitation.

Goals :

  • Developing regional and international guidelines for providing carbon-free power supply and transportation in the Arctic.

  • Determining the best practices and optimal available technologies for highly autonomous carbon-free power generation using hydrogen fuel and renewable energy sources in settlements and at industrial facilities.

  • Determining the best practices and optimal available technologies for setting up zero-carbon local and special-purpose transportation powered by electricity and hydrogen fuel.

  • Exchanging experience in and perspectives on carbon-free power for remote settlements, industrial facilities, local and special transportation in the Arctic region.

Objectives:

  1. Studying international norms regulating power supply in the Arctic.

  2. Developing a methodology for studying and evaluating the practices and technologies for carbon-free power supply to highly autonomous settlements and industrial facilities.

  3. Developing a methodology for studying and evaluating the practices and technologies for zero-carbon local and special transportation under circumpolar conditions.

  4. Collecting cases that detail the application of practices and technologies for carbon-free power supply to highly autonomous settlements and industrial facilities in the member states of the Arctic Council. Expert evaluation and identification of best practices and technological solutions.

  5. Hosting joint visits to facilities exhibiting the best practices and technologies for carbon-free power supply to highly autonomous settlements and industrial facilities in order to allow the representatives of the Arctic Council member states that are interested to perform a more detailed examination.

  6. Leveraging the analyzed best practices to work out flexible Plug & Play solutions for the integration of distributed energy resources toward incremental development of autonomous power supply in remote areas.

  7. Drafting an expert analytic report containing international guidelines regarding carbon-free power supply in the Arctic region.

  8. Holding an international conference to exchange experience and perspectives on the future development of carbon-free power supply and zero-carbon transportation in the Arctic region.

  9. Working out proposals and guidelines for decarbonizing power supply in the Arctic; delivering these proposals to the Arctic Council.
Collaboration
The Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (www.mipt.ru) invites Russian and foreign partners to join the open collaboration by participating in the project.
The project is implemented with the support of
We thank our partners
We also thank Stanislav Ivanov, Irina Petrova and Valery Ryzhkov
News and Announcements
Institute of Arctic Technologies MIPT

arctic@phystech.edu
arctic@mipt.ru
9 Institutskiy per., Dolgoprudny, Moscow Region, 141701, Russian Federation