Background


 

Finding a Fix for Alaska’s Rural Village Energy Problems

Fossil fuels are by far the most common means of providing energy for heating, electricity and transportation in remote Alaskan communities that are disconnected from a centralized power grid (Fig. 1). In these communities, fuel cost burden is often voiced as the priority concern for rural residents.

The challenges of transporting fossil fuels to these remote communities, the high cost of fuel storage, the adverse effects of fossil fuel combustion on the environment and human health, as well as the price volatility of oil, have resulted in the need to develop and advance renewable energy options and energy efficient technologies and behaviors.

Energy efficiency and well-maintained diesel power generation are essential to stable heat and electric energy use on isolated grids in remote communities. However, dependence on fossil fuels can be minimized through both efficiency and conservation practices and integration of renewable resources (biomass, geothermal, hydro, solar, wave/tidal, wind, etc.) with well-maintained diesel systems.

Initial working group efforts are concentrated on the heating needs of isolated Alaskan villages. A heat-focused workshop was held in January 2016. Based on this, a heat-related research plan is in development for rural Alaska, focused on reducing heating oil consumption, increasing energy efficiency, and the integration of renewable energy. For more information on this working group and the heat-related research plan, please click on our “one-pager” to the left.

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