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Reel-Time Efficiency

NREL details marine electric motor advancements off Alaskan coast

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) of Golden, Colorado, released details on advancements made in a marine electric motor efficiency project based off the Alaskan coast near the town of Sitka. These include major changes for the small-boat commercial fishing industry: a transition to energy-efficient commercial fishing, powered by low- and zero-emissions propulsion systems.

One boat in particular, the I Gotta, will boast an 80% fuel use decrease due to its use of a unique parallel hybrid battery-diesel system that allows it to "travel at full speed using its diesel engine, then switch to a battery-electric motor when fishing," according to the August 22 NREL article by Anna Squires.

The project began when the Sitka-based Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association (ALFA) applied for support from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Energy Transitions Initiative Partnership Project (ETIPP) to assess fishing vessel hybridization options. ETIPP paired the association with commercial vehicle researchers from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Sandia National Laboratories. And I Gotta’s retrofitting has been funded with grant support from AgWest Farm Credit and Acme Seafoods.

The efforts are part of a larger eco-friendly movement that is strong in Alaska, according to NREL.

The marine market is not often thought of as a major sector for electric motors, but it is projected to grow in the coming years due to emissions mandates and environmental initiatives.

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