The world’s first hybrid fishing boat began operations off the coast of Norway in 2015. Fuel savings are close to 70 per cent.
Diesel is the single largest cost for the global fishing industry, as well as its main source of greenhouse gas emissions. Catching a metric ton of North American salmon consumes 886 litres of diesel, according to a study by Australian researchers.
Other types of fish require even more fuel, driving up costs for fishermen and consumers alike. And with the advent of carbon pricing, diesel will not only be expensive to buy, but also to burn.
Since one litre of diesel produces more than 2.5 kg of CO₂, the combined carbon emissions from global fishing operations are huge.
In 2015, Selfa Arctic built Karoline for fisherman Bent Gabrielsen from North Norway, in collaboration with Siemens. The small, one-of-a-kind vessel is equipped with two battery packs that have a total capacity of 195 kWh, as well as a 500-litre diesel engine, which together power the boat for a full day of fishing in the Norwegian Sea.
Running on diesel to and from the fishing grounds, Karoline switches to electricity for fishing, loading and unloading. It runs electric-only for almost three hours every day, and the batteries are fully recharged in port overnight. The boat’s electrical supply has proven faultless after three years of operation.
Karoline is a pilot project, and the vessel’s performance is being closely monitored by researchers at SINTEF. The data collected are being used to design new hybrid boats with an engine featuring an optimal mix of power sources for different tasks. The researchers hope to build even more energy-efficient boats in the future.
Fuel savings and emission cuts are the two obvious benefits of a hybrid fishing boat. But hybrid vessels also reduce noise and exhaust from diesel engines, improving working conditions for fishermen.
Additionally, during the period in which the engine runs on electricity, sounds from pumps and other machinery become more audible, thereby improving onboard maintenance and safety.
Karoline is operating successfully in the harsh climate north of the Arctic Circle, so the vessel can be expected to function smoothly in any waters.
Small, motorised fishing boats number more than 2.5 million globally, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. Small boats particularly dominate in inland fisheries, where they account for as much as 91 per cent of all motorised vessels. With increased electrification across all sectors of society, the market for hybrid fishing boats is thus potentially massive.
Selfa is currently working on new and upgraded versions of its hybrid fishing boat. Technology and experience from the Karoline project have also been used for developing low and zero emission products for the fish farming industry.