Global Applications Program
ACEP has established the Global Applications Program (GAP) to assess the global opportunities for trade surrounding the use of energy systems in islanded grids. The goals of the program are to develop a robust Alaska knowledge economy that can be exported globally and to create synergy with global entities in the development of solutions and strategies in mitigating barriers to affordable, cost-stable, reliable, and secure energy.
Alaska’s rural energy applications, characterized as islanded microgrids[i], are predominantly reliant on diesel electricity generation and have been increasingly susceptible to volatile fuel costs and supply interruptions. These applications, in particular communities but also industry and other applications, are increasingly seeking energy provision that is affordable, cost-stable, reliable, and secure.
Within the context of U.S. energy infrastructure, islanded microgrids are a rare occurrence. Globally, however, islanded microgrids are/will be common, in particular in the developing word. There are often similar circumstances between these global applications and rural Alaska regarding energy provision: long and vulnerable energy supply chains, expensive and volatile energy costs, minimally developed infrastructure, and rugged geographic and environmental conditions. Globally, there is much activity to address these circumstances, especially as access to affordable, cost-stable, reliable, and secure energy is a cornerstone to human and economic development.
In response to the challenges faced by rural Alaska energy applications, stakeholders across Alaska including ACEP have been developing unique technical expertise specific to remote microgrids. Such expertise includes:
- Design, construction, and efficient operation of reliable continually operated stationary diesel-electric gen sets in remote and Arctic conditions
- Design and implementation of advanced controls strategies for managing production (including multiple generation sources), distribution, and end-use of electric power on islanded microgrids
- Development and demonstration of emerging energy technologies that that have the potential to immediately reduce energy costs in high energy cost areas
- Development of holistic, sustainable approach to designing community-centered energy solutions, using novel approaches such as scenarios planning
The successful development of relevant microgrid expertise in Alaska offers a significant opportunity for the trade of solutions and strategies globally to mitigate these circumstances. ACEP has established the GAP to assess the global opportunities for such trade and develop a collaborative program to act upon identified opportunities. The vision of the program is to realize the following:
- Development of a robust Alaskan knowledge economy that can be exported globally
- Synergy with global entities in the development of solutions and strategies in mitigating barriers to affordable, cost-stable, reliable, and secure energy
The Global Applications Program is still in an exploratory phase as ACEP seeks to better understand global opportunities for trade and synergy surrounding Alaska’s remote energy applications. The program is still dynamic; as research progresses, goals and objectives may change.
ACEP is currently working on developing a multi-dimensional evaluation tool to conduct a global market assessment to identify opportunities for trade and synergy. Through this evaluation process, several countries will be identified for a preliminary review, further investigating opportunities for trade and synergy and providing feedback to the evaluation methodology.
Other next steps include broader research on similar programs and initiatives globally to provide refinement and feedback to programmatic objectives.
[i] Microgrids, according to the CIGRÉ Working Group, are electricity distribution systems containing [localized] loads and distributed energy resources (such as distributed generators, storage devices, or controlled loads), that can be operated in a controlled, coordinated way either while connected to the main power network [macrogrid] or while islanded [intentionally or unintentionally disconnected from a macrogrid for a short time period]. In Alaska, microgrids do not typically have the ability to be connected to a macrogrid, and thus are not designed to be operated connected to or synchronous with a macrogrid. ACEP’s GAP use of “islanded microgrid” follows the context in Alaska.
Photo 1: A remote geothermal power plant in northern Iceland. Courtesy of Jason Meyer, ACEP.
Photo 2: The Kotzebue Electric Association Wind Farm, Kotzebue. Courtesy of Jason Meyer, ACEP.
Photo 3: The community of Anaktuvuk Pass, Alaska. Courtesy of Jason Meyer, ACEP.