In Uummannaq County on the west coast of Greenland, the Greenland shark is being looked to as an option for powering the community’s energy demand. The Centre for Arctic Technology (ARTEK) of the Technical University of Denmark is investigating whether Greenland sharks can be a useful resource for biogas because the sharks have a high content of fat and protein, which can be transferred into energy.
The fishing and shrimp trade is the main industry in Greenland, with halibut being the main catch. The Greenland shark amounts for 50 percent of the total waste from the fishing industry in Uummannaq County. The shark is a problem for halibut fisherman as it eats the halibut, gets caught in fishing lines and is destructive to the fishing operation, leading to past initiatives to keep the Greenland shark population down. The researchers say the shark meat is not edible. In transforming waste into a source of energy, the meat would be cut up into small pieces, mixed with wastewater and macroalgae for production into biogas.
A PhD student working on the project explains that biogas may be a suitable solution for such waste because the waste is currently underused and biogas production would be carbon dioxide-neutral. Establishing a type of self-sustaining source of energy would be significant as Greenland currently has supplies flown in by helicopter. The industry does use some waste from the halibut production to produce fish oil for internal energy production and smaller portions are used in dog food or sold to Japan.
The project intends to also research the possibility of using seaweed as a source of carbohydrates for the biogas production. The use of macroalgae as an energy source will also be studied.
In August, the Centre will host its annual conference “Tourist Cottages and Climate Change,” which will focus on way Greenland can adapt to and prevent climate change, including the use of the Greenland shark for local energy production and self-sustaining portable tourist cottages that can withstand Arctic conditions.
Greenland has been under Danish rule since 1721 until gaining its independence this summer.