Arctic technology for the sustainable development of Greenland

Most Greenlandic communities are small remote settlements dependent on oil for their energy needs. The rising costs of oil and gas have spurred interest in renewable options. Developing and adapting new technology to meet the needs of the Arctic region to support its sustainable development is a major task.

Low-energy house in Sisimiut, Greenland

The Arctic Technology Centre, ARTEK – cooperation between the Technical University of Denmark, Copenhagen, and Sanaartornermik Ilinniarfik, the School for Building and Construction of Sisimiut, Greenland – is developing and trialling a range of innovative technologies, including an exploration of low energy solutions and renewable energy options suitable to the Arctic environment.

A low-energy house under arctic conditions
Researchers have designed and built a low-energy house adapted to the unique Arctic conditions that aims to reduce both energy consumption and its high corresponding expenses in the longer term. The house is located in Sisimiut, just 42 km north of the Polar Circle.

This building has extra insulation in the floors, exterior walls and the roof, advanced windows with low energy glazing using several layers of glass, a ventilation system with heat recovery, and a solar collector that supplies a significant proportion of its hot water. The house has also been orientated to exploit the light and it has a geometry which optimizes the daylight.

Researchers set a very ambitious target for the annual energy consumption for heating of the house (80 kWh/m2∙yr), which was less than half of the value for permissible heat consumption according to the Greenlandic Building Regulations (230 kWh/m2∙yr). In 2010, the house’s energy consumption was only 27% higher than originally anticipated and research is ongoing to improve the performance.

Hopefully this house will serve as an inspiration and be used as a reference for future energy conditions in the Arctic.

Renewable fuel from the local organic waste
Another project explores the potential for using by-catch and fish processing waste for energy production in Uummannak, which is located 600 km north of the Arctic Circle, and Sisimiut, Greenland. The research over last the two years has favoured biogas production, which could cover 17% of Uummannaq’s energy needs.

Fishing and its associated fishery industry are the main source of income for local communities. However, as a result of production processes, a considerable part of this resource is not utilized. This organic waste is usually dumped back into the ocean or burned on land.

The objective of this project is to further develop the possibility of producing energy from biogenic waste from the fishing industry mixed with black waste water. This demonstration project will focus on the use of the waste material present in the Uummannaq area - mainly by-products of Greenland halibut and Greenland shark.

The output of the project will be a small-scale, portable plant, primarily based in Uummannaq, Greenland. The findings of this research will feed directly into pilot biogas projects and hopefully will contribute to the sustainability and survival of peripheral communities in a changing Arctic.

For further information, please contact Professor Arne Villumsen, Head of ARTEK or Dr. Sandra Bollwerk, ARTEK.

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