Sunday, March 22, 2009

Renewable energy frontier collides with the Alaskan frontier

While the rest of America is slow to jump on the band wagon for wind renewable energy, rural Alaskan towns are eager to install wind farms through the Alaskan Village Electric Cooperative.

In Alaska there are villages that are so small and rural they have no roads. Everything in the community is shipped by barge or plane including fuel. At $7.40 a gallon, it’s no wonder that these rural communities are eagerly installing wind farms in order to save money.

The simple beauty of this program is that while oil and diesel are expensive to transport to these communities, wind turbines can be placed virtually anywhere because of the harsh, barren landscape. They pay for themselves in a few years by the amount of energy they save for the community. For example Toksook Bay, a fishing community, has three wind turbines that save anywhere from a few dozen gallons to a few hundred gallons every day. It’s an economic example of the sustainability of this technology.

What’s great is the bias that wind is a luxury fuel is being overturned in a conservative state which used to sneer at the idea. It’s true that most of the oil from the United States comes from Alaska, but little stays in the state, which partly accounts for the high prices. Even urban areas are benefiting from wind power as more and more wind farms pop up along the coast and it looks like more are to come. Currently, 24% of the energy in Alaska is generated from hydroelectric sources, but Gov. Palin has announced recently Alaska will try to obtain 50% of their energy through renewable sources by 2025. So it’s very plausible that Alaska will become the frontier for renewable energy.


1 comment:

Abhinav Sharma said...

This sounds great. High fuel prices in states like Alaska makes the renewable resources of energy viable and realistic. This can also be seen as a long term investment which ultimately enhances their economic growth. In addition, there is no restriction on the land usage too.

Moreover, Canada is also not far behind in keeping up the pace. Less than a month back the Ontario govt. introduced a Green Energy Act to accelerate private investment in wind, solar, and other renewables using modified feed in tariff. Infact the jobs created are highly paid green collar jobs! (

Another state in Canada, Quebec is working hard too. Quebec plans to integrate wind and hydro power by using smart grids. One out of four dams in this $6.5billion project will start in the next 5 years. The plan is to use wind power when the wind is gusty, and use hydro power when the wind is not present.

The project seems to be prmosing. But we will have to wait and watch how it comes along!!