Renewable energy in Alaska
March 18, 2012
The Renewable Energy Atlas of Alaska was published in 2011 byy the State of Alaska and provides a succinct guide to the state’s renewable energy efforts.
A few highlights:
- In the Interior, Chena Hot Springs Resort serves as an example of diverse uses of geothermal energy - providing heat and power to its facilities, swimming pools, and greenhouses. The resort utilizes organic rankine cycle generators totaling 680kW that run on 165°F water, the lowest temperature energy source for an operating geothermal power plant in the world. The resort also installed a 16-ton absorption chiller in 2005 and uses geothermal power to chill an outdoor ice museum that is kept frozen year-round. The resort still relies on a diesel generator to meet a portion of its electric load.
- Hydroelectric power, Alaska’s largest source of renewable energy, supplies 21% of the state’s electrical energy in an average water year.
- Rural Alaska, which depends largely on expensive diesel fuel for power, has seen rapid growth in the use of wind energy with several community-scale wind systems installed in recent years
and several more under construction. In 2009, Kodiak Electric Association installed the first megawatt-scale turbines in the state. The three GE 1.5 MW turbines are supplying 9% of the community’s electricity, and cut the utility’s diesel fuel use in half, saving 930,000 gallons in the first year of operation. Alaska Village Electric Cooperative, which serves 53 villages in Interior and Western Alaska, now has wind-diesel hybrid systems installed in 9 villages. In Nome, an 18-turbine 1.17 MW wind farm funded by a private for profitcorporation was installed in 2009. Unalakleet Village Electric Cooperative also added a 600 kW wind farm in 2009.
- Alaska’s Renewable Energy Grant Fund was created by the Legislature in 2008 to develop renewable energy projects across the state, with an emphasis on projects in areas with the highest energy costs. The Fund has been a major stimulus for renewable energy projects in Alaska. In the first three funding rounds, the Legislature appropriated $150 million for 133 qualifying projects.
Alaska strongly supports its renewable energy sector. The Atlas is a helpful and interesting document.