Ice from solar energy for sustainable fishing
May 26 2021
Indonesia is the largest island state and second largest fish producer in the world. However, small-scale fishers who use traditional fishing methods, and therefore work sustainably, make barely any contribution to this. This is despite the fact that they account for around 80 per cent of the nation’s fishermen and women. The reason is that they cannot guarantee an unbroken cold chain and therefore have no access to the big market – so they cannot compete with large industrial fisheries. A significant proportion of the catch has to be dried, or else it rots on the beach, leading to a loss of important income. A German-Indonesian technology cooperation project has developed a solution to enable cooling even in the most remote regions of the country. The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH initiated the project in 2016 and has coordinated it since then. Technical support is provided by projects in the areas of renewable energy and efficient cooling, which are funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU). The Institute of Air Handling and Refrigeration (ILK) in Dresden was responsible for developing the technology. A number of other German, Indonesian and European companies also successfully cooperated throughout the project.
The operating principle of the cooling systems sounds both simple and paradoxical: ice is produced from the sun – using a totally climate neutral process. Considerable expertise was needed to achieve this, as solar and cooling technologies had to be combined with an intelligent energy management system and sensor technology in a single unit. Although Indonesia has a plentiful supply of solar energy, solar modules do not supply much power, so the plants use extremely energy-efficient fans. Thanks to the innovative technology, a plant can produce up to 1.2 tonnes of block ice per day. This results in a total saving of 40 tonnes of CO2 and around 14,000 litres of diesel per year. What is particularly important to the small-scale fishers is that the cooling systems also function in the country’s most remote regions because they require neither electricity nor large battery capacities for their operation. This means that significantly more of the fresh catch can be cooled and sent to market and less of it spoils.
But it is not only the small-scale fishers that benefit: ʻThe technology of the solar-powered ice machines contributes to Indonesia’s green recovery after the pandemic and generates multiplier effects. For example, the improvement of rural productivity, efficiency and incomes for small-scale fishing in Indonesia. Moreover, the CO2 savings contribute to achieving Indonesia’s climate goals,’ explains Dr Dadan Kusdiana, Director General of the Indonesian Ministry for Energy and Mineral Resources.
This year an important step in the right direction is about to be made. After four years of cooperative development the first commercial plant is going into operation. From now on production will be undertaken by the local company Selaras Mandiri Tehnik (AIREF) and is therefore in Indonesian hands. This creates long-term sustainable ʻgreenʼ jobs in the locality. The technology has strong growth potential, also beyond the shores of Indonesia. Small-scale fisheries in other countries could use the same model in future to safeguard their catch.