Alaskans Pressing Ahead with Renewable Energy Projects

Oil prices are still low, at least compared with three years ago, but Alaskans are pressing ahead with renewable energy projects to reduce dependence on fuel oil for power generation and, in some cases, space heating.

Alaska Village Electric Cooperative, which operates small utilities in 56 rural villages, has been aggressive in building wind generation and, more recently, linking projects to boilers and hot water loops to use surplus wind power for space heating.

AVEC now has 11 wind projects, operating 34 turbines, that serve 15 villages. Some communities connect with interties, so that one wind project serves two or more communities, according to Forrest Button, AVEC’s manager for project development. The co-op is now investing in more wind capacity: in Bethel in 2018 and St. Mary in 2019, and in 2020 at St. Michael and Stebbins, where one project will serve both villages, Button told Commonwealth North, an Anchorage-based business group, in a briefing on renewable energy.

Read the full article here.

Source: Alaskans pressing ahead with renewable energy projects – Frontiersman

$2.4 Million Grant to Fund Study of Renewable Energy Impacts

A team of University of Alaska researchers has received a $2.4 million federal grant to study whether the use of renewable power could help small Alaska communities provide food, energy and safe water sustainably.

The National Science Foundation-funded project will study energy use and its impacts in the remote communities of Cordova, Tanana and Igiugig. Many off-road Alaska communities rely on expensive diesel generators for electricity, but interest is growing in alternate sources like wind, water and solar. Such alternative sources hold promise for supplying energy, and potentially food and water, but could affect the stability of a rural community’s microgrid.

Read the full article here.

Source: $2.4 million grant to fund study of renewable energy impacts – Alaska Business Magazine

Cordova Hosts U.S. Senate Field Hearing on Microgrids | Alaska Public Media

When it comes to emerging energy technologies, many remote Alaska communities are on the cutting edge. That was the message from Cordova this spring, where U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski held a field hearing of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which she chairs.

The focus of the hearing was microgridsself-contained electrical grids, which can operate unconnected to any larger transmission system. They’re a necessity for just about every Alaska community off the road system. Most of the grids are powered by diesel, but more and more communities are trying to cut costs by adding renewables like wind or expanding hydropower.

In the process, the state has become a testing ground for technologies that are increasingly interesting to the rest of the world.

Read the full article here.

 

Source: Cordova Hosts U.S. Senate Field Hearing on Microgrids | Alaska Public Media

Week of the Arctic Showcases UAF Energy Research

Hundreds of delegates from around the world were in Fairbanks for the Arctic Interchange.

For researchers at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF), the global spotlight is a chance to showcase their work on sustainable energy.

UAF research professor George Roe said right now the diesel generator is the backbone of villages around Alaska. He and his colleagues at the Alaska Center for Power and Energy (ACEP) want to change that.

“We’ve got wind, we’ve got solar,” Roe explained to a group of international journalists, as he showed them around the facility.

Engineers at ACEP can replicate wind streams, river currents and solar energy in the lab and test systems before they’re sent to rural Alaska.

Roe said renewable energy work being done in the Last Frontier can be applied all over the world.

“Alaska’s motto is: North to the future,” Roe said. “We’re required, almost mandated to share what we’re learning and to find opportunities to work with other people and learn from them as well.”

Roe points to Kodiak as a city leading the way in sustainability. Nearly 100 percent of the community’s energy needs are supplied by a combination of wind and water.

“It’s a huge knowledge export opportunity for the state. And in this time of economic diversification, taking this Alaskan know-how and sharing it with other remote communities,” Roe said.

Watch the news segment and read the full article here.

Source: Week of the Arctic showcases UAF Energy Research » KTVA 11

UAF Announces Recipients of Microgrid Competition Awards

The University of Alaska Fairbanks has announced the winners of its first Alaska Center for Microgrid Technologies Commercialization industry competition.

UniEnergy Technologies, a flow battery company based in Mukilteo, Washington, will receive the Microgrid Project laboratory testing award. The award includes 25 dedicated lab days, consultation with staff and testing in the Power Systems Integration Lab at the UAF Alaska Center for Energy and Power. The lab can evaluate equipment under a range of real-world scenarios and emulates the microgrids and operating conditions found in rural Alaska.

“With the accelerating deployment of microgrids globally, including in cold-weather climates, the need for long-duration and long-life energy storage solutions such as UET’s advanced vanadium flow batteries is now widely-recognized,” said Russ Weed, UET’s vice president for business development and marketing. “We very much appreciate the Microgrid Competition award and anticipate working closely with the Alaska Center for Energy and Power.”

The university is also awarding two Technology Seed awards: one to Ocean Renewable Power Company, a marine renewable technology and project developer with headquarters in Portland, Maine, and one to DONμT Energy Technologies from Palo Alto, California, a software developer focusing on robust microgrid design tools. These awards include 125 hours of technical consultation with the PSI team.

The companies were selected from a competitive pool of applicants and based on the review and recommendations of an independent panel of technical and commercialization experts.

The Alaska Center for Microgrid Technologies Commercialization, led by ACEP, was launched in August 2015 with funding through the U.S. Economic Development Administration and the University of Alaska. It focuses on providing the technical and business assistance required to accelerate commercialization of technology to improve the affordability and reliability of microgrid energy systems. The University of Alaska Anchorage Business Enterprise Institute partners with ACEP on the center.

Navigant Research and GTM Research have estimated that microgrids could be a multi-billion-dollar global market over the next decade. In 2016, the Alaska Center for Microgrid Technologies Commercialization launched the industry competition to help entrepreneurs in the western United States move their concepts toward commercialization so U.S.-based companies could capture those local and global microgrid markets.

Another round of the competition ​is planned for summer 2017.  Additional information will be posted on the ACEP website.

Source: UAF News