Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Alaska has excellent renewable energy potential

Alaska certainly has plenty of renewable energy resources at its disposal, and with the right policy the state could well become one of nation's renewable energy leaders. However, even despite its excellent renewable energy potential Alaska is still primarily a gas and oil producing state.

There is only one renewable energy source that plays the major role in Alaska – hydropower. Hydropower currently supplies approximately one quarter of Alaskan energy needs. Hydroelectric projects can be found all over the state, and the interest for new hydroelectric projects remains high. Hydropower should therefore remain extremely important renewable energy source in Alaska for foreseeable future.

The same however cannot be said about wind energy. Alaska, despite having one of the best wind energy resources in the country is still far from becoming one of nation's leaders in wind energy development. Still, the Alaskan wind energy industry is showing some signs of improvement with many communities in rural Alaska developing new wind energy projects.

Kodiak Island, Alaska. Hydropower and wind power account for more than 88 percent of the island's electricity.
Alaska also has excellent biomass potential which comes as a very little surprise when you consider the richness of Alaskan wood resources. However, burning wood releases harmful greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, meaning that any larger biomass production needs to be taken very carefully, and primarily from forests that need maintenance clearing.

Alaska also has excellent geothermal energy potential, with several geothermal hot spots located in the Interior, in the southeast portion of the state, in the area around the Wrangell Mountains and throughout the Alaskan peninsula.

Alaska also has the best tidal and wave power resources in the country, accounting for more than 50 percent of the nation’s wave energy resources and over 90 percent of the nation's tidal energy resources.

The large solar energy projects don't seem economically viable in Alaska, mostly because of Alaskan short winter days, but Alaska certainly has plenty of other renewable energy sources to choose from.

As already said before with the right policy Alaska could soon become one of nation's renewable energy leaders. Alaskan renewable energy goal of obtaining 50 percent of electricity from renewable energy sources by 2025 certainly looks reachable. This not just because Alaska has plentiful renewable resources at its disposal but also because the state has relatively small population which means lower energy needs compared to other states.

Alaska really shouldn't have tough time in ensuring clean energy future for its residents.