Renewable Energy

Regional Energy

The Southwest Alaska Municipal Conference (SWAMC) is managing a contract funded by the State of Alaska to write a regional energy plan. Good progress is being made on that effort.

Aleutian and Pribilof Stranded Energy


Alaska’s Renewables: Aleutian Islands Region

The Aleut Region is large and entirely all Class 7 winds, the highest quality wind. The region’s high precipitation and steep topography allow for great hydro potential. The Aleutian Islands encompass 1200 miles of the Ring of Fire with 57 volcanos making for an excellent geothermal resource. At least 14 sites have been identified that potentially have high temperature reservoirs (>302 ºF) along the Aleutian arc.

Total wave energy potential in Alaska is estimated to be 1,250 TWh/yr, over 50% of the total potential found in the US. Wave potential along the southern coast of Alaska and the Aleutian Islands, for example, is estimated to be almost 200 times the Alaska’s total annual energy needs. The tidal and ocean currents streaming between the islands at the headwaters of the Bering Sea coming from the North Pacific Ocean are unsurpassed. Alaska is estimated to possess 90% of the tidal power in the U.S, or 109 TWh/yr.

This energy can be transported as fuel (ammonia) or electricity (HVDC) or used for local manufacturing such as processing Red Dog Mine ore, drying fish and processing bauxite, timber, fertilizer, etc. An advantage to development using stranded renewable energy is the company can own and control the entire operation, energy project to final manufactured product. It’s said in the region, ‘you could plug in to the Aleutian Island and power the entire country.’

Regional evaluation of potential geothermal sites and associated transmission lines on the Aleutian Chain project objectives are as follows:

1. Identify potential geothermal sites in the Aleutian Islands.
2. Undertake a geological, geochemistry, and geophysical assessment of targeted sites for geothermal power generation potential.
3. Undertake a geothermal drilling program to promote regional geothermal interests.
4. Develop conceptual design and business plan for follow-on phases of the projects.
5. Conduct an optimization phase in the conceptual design to determine how to supply power either from one centrally located geothermal plant or from many smaller geothermal plants, so the communities involved can be evaluated. Included will be evaluating the use of transmission lines for power versus supplying hot water via a pipeline to one or several geothermal power plant(s).

Akutan Geothermal
The City of Akutan intends to construct, operate and maintain two 6 Megawatt (MW) non-condensing steam plants, along with four production/injection wells, access roads, transmission lines and support facilities necessary to convey power to the City of Akutan and the Trident Seafoods Shore Plant, located adjacent to Akutan village. The resource is comparable to Iceland’s geothermal and can support the country’s largest single fish processing plant (Trident Seafoods-Akutan), the community of Akutan and other industry including local food production in geothermal powered greenhouses.

Akutan District Heating
The purpose of this project is to provide residual steam and hot water to provide facility and home heating in Akutan, also referred to as teleheating. Over 50% of the energy used in Alaska communities is for heating and electrical resistance heating and is the most expensive while use of residual hot water from the geothermal steam plants is anticipated to be cost-effective. (see

Makushin Geothermal Project
Most of the electricity used on Unalaska is generated using diesel engines. Assuming $5/gal. and an efficiency of 14.5kWhr/gal., the annual fuel savings could be approximately $3MM/MW of installed capacity. A 30 MW plant at full capacity would therefore displace the energy equivalent of $90,000,000 for each year benefitting the City of Unalaska and its residents.

 Adak hydro
The proposed project will conduct engineering analyses to utilize two existing dams to produce hydro-power.  The existing dams, Bonnie Rose and DeMarie, are in close proximity to the City.  An initial review of the characteristics of these dams and hydrology data of the watershed indicate that these dams could produce approximately three megawatts of low cost, renewable energy by modifying the existing spillways, adding a new pipeline to increase the head, constructing a turbine powerhouse, and integrating these components with the existing diesel generation and distribution system. The engineer estimated this project at $12.0 million.

Phase II, Nikolski Wind Project
The Phase I Nikolski wind project final report was submitted October 14, 2010 (Contract A 48 HECG), and it was hoped the wind diesel configuration would produce the greatest potential future savings for the community, the greatest leverage against increasing fuel prices and other liabilities associated with diesel only generation and flexibility for future electric and thermal load growth within the community. However, the system has failed to be operational except for when technicians were on-site and monitoring and adjusting the system to changing wind regimes and loads. The Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association (APIA) solicited bids for completing the integration of the wind turbine with the diesel grid. The anticipated total project cost for this final phase is $423,459. This request is for $373,459. The Nikolski IRA will provide cash and in-kind contributions for air transportation, local labor, heavy equipment usage and operation, local transportation, local lodging and local coordination totaling $50,000.

False Pass Tidal Energy Project 
Based on the results of the reconnaissance tidal current survey performed in the False Pass area, it is clear that, from strictly a resource perspective, site S2 (False Pass Narrows) has great potential and is the best tidal energy resource measured so far in the United States. The robust tidal energy resource at site S2 will provide exceptional output from a tidal energy project with impressive capacity factors in the range of 40-50% of rated capacity. The energy from this site will be used by the community and the recently expanded False Pass seafood processing facility, Bering Sea Seafoods. (see

Barge-based Tidal Energy
Install a floating tidal turbine(s) near coastal Alaska communities and villages. This project could be used to provide energy for communities of to support the fishing industry.

St. George Wave Energy
St. George’s electrical demand is 70kW to 200 kW, which compare that to the maximum wave power generation from a single wave energy unit with a maximum possible grid penetration of 32.5/70 = 46% in the summer season. The minimum winter demand is 150kW and the maximum is 300kW. If we compare that to the maximum wave power generation at 44kW we have a maximum possible grid penetration of 44/150 = 29% in the winter season. A field of wave energy buoys could provide St. George with plenty of energy and the extra energy could be transmitted to other locations or uned in manufacturing.

High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC)
Large-scale HVDC is a proven way to cost effectively move power, however, the small-scale HVDC systems needed to connect Alaska’s villages are not yet commercially available. This project is developing a small-scale HVDC power transmission system to substantially lower the cost of village interties, thereby reducing village energy costs.

False Pass Tidal Energy, Site Characterization (August 2013)


During the summer 2013 Benthic GeoScience Inc. (Benthic) will be working on the site characterization and hazard evaluation at the False Pass Tidal Power Project. For more on this project go to: