Photo: Illustration/The Oceana turbine (Courtesy of ACEP/Photo by Todd Paris/UAF)

Marine energy viability for remote Alaskan communities up for assessment

XENDEE Corporation, Idaho National Laboratory (INL), and the Alaska Center for Energy and Power (ACEP) have been granted funding to assess the viability of tidal, wave, and river/ocean current technologies for powering remote Alaskan communities.

Illustration/The Oceana turbine (Courtesy of ACEP/Photo by Todd Paris/UAF)
Illustration/The Oceana turbine (Courtesy of ACEP/Photo by Todd Paris/UAF)

The project, launched in part with seed money from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Water Power Technologies Office, will also generate a framework for the integration of marine hydrokinetic technologies in modelling platform.

The aim of the project is to tap into regional sources of energy to reduce costs and dependency on imported fossil fuels as well as to enhance local resilience and sustainability.

The project team will first generate a database of grid-islanded communities that are strong candidates for this type of technology and currently have a heavy reliance on diesel burning generators for power generation.

Then, the project team will assess the strategy and integration methods related to implementing marine hydrokinetic technologies in an islanded grid facing arctic weather conditions.

Thomas Mosier, energy systems group lead at INL, said: “Several grid-islanded Alaskan communities have the potential to harness significant hydrokinetic power. The implementation of microgrids in these areas would diversify local energy profiles with the potential in many communities to keep costs flat while reducing environmental impact and the dependence on diesel”.

Shiloh Elliott, modeling and simulation scientist at INL, added: “The decision framework that will be developed for this effort will provide a systematic basis for recommending potential microgrid configurations. Those configurations will utilize local reliable energy sources to increase community power resilience and diversify power profiles to isolated and vulnerable Alaskan communities”.

Finally, the project team will be enhancing XENDEE, the microgrid decision support platform, to include capabilities for marine hydrokinetic technologies.

Michael Stadler, CTO of XENDEE, said: “The introduction of marine hydrokinetic technologies to the XENDEE software platform offers a quick and reliable way for microgrid designers to experiment with new DER technologies and test the viability and bankability of microgrid projects before breaking ground. In fact, with the new technologies integrated, our team will be able to easily examine the use of other technologies as well, such as hydropower or wind energy to supplement the islanded communities”.