The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Indian Energy is collaborating with the University of Alaska Fairbanks ACEP (Alaska Center for Energy and Power) to support in-depth technical and economic analysis of wind-diesel energy systems in rural Alaska. The resulting report will evaluate the costs and benefits of installing hybrid power systems in Alaska Native villages to alleviate high energy costs by reducing dependence on imported fossil fuels.
Through the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the DOE Office of Indian Energy is authorized to fund and implement a variety of programmatic activities that assist Tribes with energy development, capacity building, energy infrastructure, energy costs, and electrification of Indian lands and homes. The Office also administers grants that support the evaluation, development, and deployment of energy efficiency and renewable energy projects on tribal lands that will help save energy and money, expand the use of renewable energy resources, and promote economic development.
“In Native Alaska villages, where energy costs have tripled over the past decade and many residents are spending up to half their monthly income on fuel for heating, electricity, and transportation, the DOE Office of Indian Energy is focused on providing village leaders with the knowledge and resources required to make informed energy choices that will guide their communities toward a sustainable energy future,” said Tracey LeBeau, Director of the Office of Indian Energy.
“We are very excited for the opportunity to work with the DOE Office of Indian Energy and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to systematically assess performance of installed wind-diesel systems in Alaska,” said ACEP Director Gwen Holdmann. “We view this as a necessary first step both to help optimize existing projects and design the systems of tomorrow. This collaboration complements funding we have received to support our portion of the study from the Shell Foundation and the DOE EPSCoR program.”
Leveraging the enriched data made available through the ACEP study, the DOE Office of Indian Energy and NREL will develop basic and advanced financial models to inform wind-diesel project planning and development efforts as part of the larger effort to increase renewable energy generation in Alaska. A companion training program will be designed and offered to assist Alaska Native villages and corporations in using the models to evaluate the relative costs of deploying wind-diesel power systems vis à vis diesel and heating oil fuel systems.
The ACEP study is part of the DOE Office of Indian Energy’s broader efforts to support clean energy projects in Alaska. Through its new stand-alone Strategic Technical Assistance Response Team (START) Program, DOE and the Denali Commission are partnering to help rural Alaska Native communities conduct energy awareness and training programs and pursue new renewable energy and energy efficiency opportunities. Selected Alaska Native villages may also be eligible for grant funding that supports renewable energy or energy efficiency projects. Applications for the START Program are being accepted through March 15, 2013.
Learn more about the DOE Office of Indian Energy’s Alaska START initiative.