Innovations in Energy Technologies and Empowerment in Arctic Fishing Communities (aka Qulleq)


Cold Arctic conditions, twenty-four-hour summer sunlight combined with twenty-four-hour winter darkness, and changing coastal conditions are threatening survival of Arctic communities. Many communities currently rely entirely on expensive fossil fuels for their energy needs. The joint impacts of energy cost, changes in fisheries and the environment, and a young self-rule national government are intertwined in ways that are currently threatening the culture and lifestyles of people in Northern Greenland who have long called the region home. This project discovers sustainable technological innovations and identifies an achievable and affordable pathway to the future for small communities in Northern Greenland in a changing Arctic. The research goals involve solving stakeholder-driven linked engineering-fisheries-policy challenges in ways that empower people and build capacity for an affordable, sustainable future. The discoveries will be published so that the findings will be widely available. Educational activities with the youth and schools in Greenland will provide inquiry-based, hands-on activities for learning about renewable energy systems that are also useful in schools in the U.S. and elsewhere. The learning activities will contribute to self-confidence needed by students to pursue technology-oriented careers. Sustainable technological solutions will also benefit remote communities in the mid-latitudes. Availability of affordable renewable energy will enable cultural continuity, enhance health and safety, and strengthen community resilience.

An iterative, systems-based approach that is driven by stakeholder values and objectives with co-produced knowledge is being used to define energy and fishery-related research needs faced by Arctic communities who rely on fishing for their food and income. Initiated by an invitation from local fishers in Qaanaaq, Greenland to a Dartmouth professor, this project represents stakeholder-driven science with knowledge co-generation between community members and academics. Research by faculty, graduate and undergraduate students in this project will produce mission-relevant insights and prototypes and will enable identification of robust and resilient adaptation strategies. Engineers, scientists, students, hunter-fishers, utility managers, local government representatives, and citizens will collaborate to address challenging interdisciplinary problems in this region where planning and adaptation to environmental change is not already in place. Issues of adaptation will be pursued in ways that embrace energy self-reliance, identify an achievable and sustainable pathway to a resilient future, and contribute to convergent  capacity-building for engineering in changing conditions.

Logistics Summary

The project will identify, design, test, and demonstrate cutting-edge and next-generation energy technology systems designed for polar conditions and will identify affordable pathways for implementation that embraces the cultural heritage and strengthens the local energy independence of the people of Greenland. There will be four field seasons based in Qaanaaq 2022 to 2025 (original plans to start in 2020 were deferred due to COVID-19). In each year, for two approximately two-week visits, the majority of team members will fly directly from the US to Thule Air Base (AB), while Greenlandic colleagues, if joining, will arrive in Thule AB via Air Greenland from Nuuk. In May, July, and August 2022, five to eight US team members will travel to Thule AB via Air Mobility Command (AMC) and then onward to Qaanaaq on Air Greenland. In Qaanaaq the team will: (1) meet with community members to discuss needs and to plan solutions, install data loggers to collect thermal data, and identify primary uses of electrical power; (2) conduct energy studies of residential buildings using blower door tests, thermography, and visual inspections; (3) survey current uses of energy for transportation; (4) determine uses of energy for fish processing, evaluate energy storage considerations, and lead hands-on STEM activities with community youth. In August, four team members will travel to Siorapaluk. In February and August 2023, three to six US team members will travel to Thule AB via AMC and then onward to Qaanaaq on Air Greenland. During the August trip the six team participants will travel to Siorapaluk via Air Greenland and to Qeqertat via boat transfer. In Qaanaaq the team will: (1) meet with community members to discuss possibilities for inclusion of solar energy, discuss co-generated draft designs of affordable, energy efficient small homes for fishers, and foster education activities for renewable energy science and engineering; (2) hold a workshop with fishers to co-generate plans for local fishing regulations, explore and discuss small-scale fishery development opportunities, and discuss potential engineering solutions for their fish drying hut challenges; (3) visit Siorapaluk in August to assess and discuss wind data, install a household-scale wind generator, and engage in community discussions relevant to this research; (4) visit Qeqertat in August to assess readiness for solar installation, gather data on electricity generation and use, and engage in community discussions relevant to this research.

Battelle ARO will provide Thule AB clearances, Air National Guard coordination for cargo, Air Mobility Command coordination for passengers, NSF truck at Thule, lodging in Thule, medical kit and satellite phone, travel and freight between Thule and Qaanaaq for all US field party members, travel to villages of Qeqertat and Siorapaluk for all field party members, and field safety training. All other logistics will be arranged and paid for by the PI from the research grant.

Principal Investigators

Co-Principal Investigators


Modeling a Sustainable Energy Transition in Northern Greenland: Qaanaaq Case Study
Alyssa Pantaleo, Mary Albert, Hunter Snyder, Stephen Doig, Toku Oshima, Niels Erik Hagelqvist

Many remote subsistence communities in the high Arctic rely solely on fossil fuels for heat and electricity. In Greenland, the government has reduced support for subsistence communities that receive significant fuel subsidies. In order to help enable a pathway for subsistence communities in northwest Greenland to continue their right to self determination, the feasibility of cost saving energy system improvements via renewable energy is explored.


Research Collaborator(s)

Institutional Collaborator(s)

Project PI(s)
Funded Institutions
Dartmouth College
Other Research Location(s)
Qaanaaq, Greenland
Siorapaluk, Greenland
Qeqertat, Greenland
Pituffik Space Base (Thule), Greenland
Kangerlussuaq, Greenland
Project Start Date
Apr 2020
Award Year
Funding Track