The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) are using the integrated deployment approach to help implement clean energy solutions and reduce fossil fuel use in the states of Alaska and Hawaii and the U.S. Virgin Islands territory.
DOE and NREL are joining forces with key stakeholders, including the state of Alaska, tribal and community leaders, utilities, and developers, to help reach clean energy goals throughout Alaska.
The majority of the state's energy consumption is from diesel heating fuel, which is used to provide electricity and heat for homes and businesses. The fuel must be shipped in on barges or flown in on planes in bulk during the summer and stored in large tanks in the villages. When the price of oil spikes, the costs can be devastating for remote Alaskan communities.
To help alleviate this dependence on diesel fuel, efforts are under way to analyze the potential of using Alaska's abundant, untapped renewable resources—tidal and wave energy, commercial-scale wind and biomass, geothermal energy, solar energy, and hydropower. Specific projects include:
- Wood pellet heating at several large facilities
- Village-scale biomass development throughout interior and southeastern Alaska
- High-penetration wind-diesel systems with thermal dump-loads
- Weatherization and energy efficiency initiatives, such as net-zero-energy residential construction and best-practices retrofitting.
Through partnerships with the Alaska Energy Authority, the University of Alaska, and others, DOE and NREL are also monitoring the performance of existing wind-photovoltaic hybrid systems to determine optimal configurations for future installations. This integrated deployment project is leading the way for an innovative federal-state joint initiative to develop emerging energy technologies for unique Alaska situations and eventual export to emerging markets.
Fire Island Wind Project
Alaska's biggest wind farm, Fire Island, is moving forward thanks to NREL's technical assistance and facilitation that helped re-invigorate the 17.6 megawatt (MW) project. When completed, the project will be the largest wind farm in Alaska and is expected to supply 51,000 MW-hours of power annually to the Chugach Electric Association.
DOE/NREL has been engaged in the project for more than 10 years. About a year ago, the project stalled and DOE/NREL facilitated a three-day dialog between Chugach; Fire Island Wind, LLC; consumer groups; vendors; and others to get the project and other wind prospects moving again. Following the three-day dialog, NREL was able to draw extensively from their past work in Hawaii on integrating wind in a complex, isolated grid, to demonstrate techniques and methods that were useful in predicting impacts from variable wind output. The types of variables and impacts identified by NREL played a crucial role in determining the value of the wind resource and the stability needs of the overall power grid for the Fire Island Wind Project.
Read more about the Fire Island Wind Project.
In partnership with DOE, the state of Hawaii launched the Hawai'i Clean Energy Initiative in 2008, which set ambitious energy efficiency and renewable energy goals for Hawaii to meet 70% of its energy needs with clean energy by 2030.
NREL staff provides on-site technical expertise, technology deployment, project assistance, and policy analysis to the state's energy office to develop renewable resources, including solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, ocean, and hydroelectric energy.
DOE and Hawaii have established working groups to address end-use efficiency, electricity, fuels, and transportation. Learn more in the HCEI Road Map Introduction & Overview 2011 and HCEI Road Map: 2011 Edition.
To date, the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative has:
- Established a 40% State Renewable Portfolio Standard
- Set a 30% Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard of 4,300 gigawatt hours by 2030
- Created and launched a public benefits fund to finance retrofitting of building energy efficiency technologies
- Completed construction of the 30-megawatt Kahuku Wind Farm on Oahu
- Established new, highly efficient building codes that have been adopted by all counties in Hawaii
- Helped the Oahu Transit Services begin operating 80 hybrid electric vehicle transit buses for routine service
- Assisted the Hawaiian Electric Company in running the only biofueled turbine generator in the world
- Researched the technical feasibility of bringing 400 megawatts of wind electricity to Oahu through an undersea cable
- Worked with the Kaua'i Island Utility Cooperative to analyze the economic and technical feasibility of integrating higher levels of renewable energy into the electric power system of the island of Kaua'i.
Get additional information about island projects, working groups, and more on the Hawai'i Clean Energy Initiative website.
U.S. Virgin Islands
EERE and NREL are partnering with the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) Energy Office, the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority, and other clean energy advocates to fundamentally change the way the USVI territory uses energy.
Currently, the USVI residential islands of St. Croix, St. John, St. Thomas, and Water Island are 100% dependent on fossil fuels for electricity and transportation. This total reliance on oil leaves the territory vulnerable to fluctuating global oil prices that can have devastating economic effects for individuals and businesses alike. With USVI energy costs running nearly three times the national average, energy price spikes are next to impossible for ratepayers to absorb.
In an effort to address these challenges, the USVI has set a goal to reduce fossil fuel-based energy consumption 60% by 2025. The territory is taking steps to increase energy efficiency and deploy renewable energy technologies to:
- Increase the affordability and reliability of energy throughout the territory
- Build a thriving clean energy sector that generates green jobs
- Reduce environmental threats associated with global warming
- Preserve the natural beauty that is the lifeblood of the islands.
USVI working groups have made considerable progress on the strategic planning required to meet the territory's energy reduction goal, including completing several technical assessments needed to establish a viable path forward. The following NREL technical reports explore the opportunities, barriers, and decisions that must be made to achieve the USVI's clean energy goals:
- Integrating Renewable Energy into the Transmission and Distribution System of the U.S. Virgin Islands
- U.S. Virgin Islands Energy Road Map Analysis
- U.S. Virgin Islands Petroleum Price Spike Preparation
- U.S. Virgin Islands Transportation Petroleum Reduction Plan
- Waste-to-Energy Evaluation: U.S. Virgin Islands
- Wind Power Opportunities in St. Thomas, USVI: A Site-Specific Analysis
The USVI project is part of the Energy Development in Island Nations (EDIN) partnership. Learn more on the EDIN-USVI website.