Alaska becomes testing ground for future energy technologies


According to a article posted by Alaska’s Energy Desk, When it comes to emerging energy technologies, the message from US Senator Lisa Murkowski who held the field hearing was that “When it comes to emerging energy technologies, many remote Alaska communities are on the cutting edge.”

The focus of the meeting was microgrids: self-contained electrical grids, which can operate unconnected to any larger transmission system.

“They’re a necessity for just about every 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,” reported Alaska’s Energy Desk.

In February this year, ABB announed that it would provide an microgrid, combining battery and flywheel based storage technologies, designed to test scalability and improve power stability for around 300,000 people in Anchorage.

The small scale project, initiated by Chugach Electric Association, Inc., aims to identify technologies that will enable the integration of more renewables, including wind power from a 17MW wind farm on Fire Island, located about 4 km off the coast of Anchorage, which will work in concert with the innovative storage solution.

Future energy Alaska

When Murkowski asked panelists to predict the future of energy in Alaska, she received a range of futuristic ideas as to what technology could do for Alaska’s energy system as well as consumer’s households.

The Mayor of Cordova, a town in Alaska, predicted efficient smart grids, in which appliances can communicate with the larger grid about the best times to run.

Meera Kohler, of the Alaska Village Electric Cooperative, reportedly said micro nuclear reactors or nuclear batteries might eventually be part of the solution in rural Alaska.

Gwen Holdmann, of the state’s Center for Energy and Power, said she sees major potential in hydrokinetic systems that can harness the power of rivers, waves and tides.

All of the panellists present at the hearing noted the need for federal investment in local energy innovation, especially during the state’s current budget crunch.

“… I certainly know where my priorities are,” Murkowski said. “It’s trying to figure out how we here in Alaska can better access our energy resources in a way that allows for affordability, that allows for clean, diverse supplies, and that really helps build on some of the innovation that we’ve seen here in communities like Cordova and around the state.”


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