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Denali Commission Emerging Energy Technology Grant

  • EETG Photo 1
  • EETG Photo 2
  • EETG Photo 3

Project Summary

The Alaska Center for Energy and Power (ACEP) served as the program manager for the Emerging Energy Technology Grant (EETG), funded by the Denali Commission. This grant sought to demonstrate Alaskan alternative and renewable energy technology in the pre-commercial stage.

Project Background

Emerging energy technology is a critical phase in the development process of energy technology, linking research and development to the commercialization of energy solutions. Although the Arctic possesses bountiful energy resources, the Arctic also faces very unique conditions in terms of climate, environment, population density, energy costs, logistics, and the isolated nature of electrical generation and transmission systems. These conditions, challenging under the best of circumstances, lend the Arctic to being an ideal test bed for energy technology. Emerging energy technology provides a unique opportunity to meet Arctic energy needs, develop energy resources, and create global expertise.

In 2009, the Denali Commission released the EETG as a one-time public solicitation. This competitive solicitation, with a total funding opportunity of $4 million, targeted alternative and renewable emerging energy technology proposals from Alaskan applicants. The Commission’s goal was to develop emerging energy technology that had the potential of widespread deployment in Alaska and had the long-term goal of reducing energy costs for Alaskans.

Project Details

ACEP served as the program manager of the EETG. In addition, ACEP worked with the funded projects, with oversight from the Commission, to identify critical performance data for collection, management, and dissemination. Data, analysis, and lessons learned were then compiled and made public upon project completion, providing the insight and lessons learned needed to accelerate the development of energy solutions for Alaska.

In total, 50 applicants applied to the first round of the solicitation, requesting over $29 million in funding. Of these proposals, 15 were selected for a second round review, with nine proposals eventually being selected for awards. The following is a summary of the selected projects:

Project Title

2009 EETG Grantee

Project Summary

Seawater Heat Pump Demonstration Project

Alaska SeaLife Center

Installation and demonstration of a heat pump system “lifting” latent heat from raw seawater for use as building heat at the ASLC facility in Seward.

Psychrophiles for Generating Heating Gas

Cordova Electric Cooperative

Investigation of the use of psychrophiles (cold loving microbes) to improve efficiency in biogas digestors for generating cooking and heating gas for Alaskan households.

Feasibility of Solar Hot Water Systems

Kotzebue Electric Association

Demonstration of solar thermal hot water heating systems integrated into housing in an Arctic environment.

Flow Battery Energy Storage Systems

Kotzebue Electric Association

Analysis and demonstration of a flow battery system and its potential for energy storage in rural wind systems.

Wales Diesel-Off High Penetration Wind System

Kotzebue Electric Association

Demonstration of diesel-off configuration for a remote wind-diesel high penetration hybrid power system through the retrofit of existing equipment and controls in Wales, Alaska.

Nenana Hydrokinetic Turbine

ORPC Alaska LLC

Development and demonstration of an in-river hydrokinetic system, the RivGen™ Power System, by ORPC Alaska, LLC.

Commercial Scale Wood Pellet Fired Boiler

Sealaska Corporation

Conversion of Sealaska’s corporate headquarters building from a diesel fired boiler system to a wood pellet fired boiler system.

Organic Rankine Cycle Heat Recovery System

Tanana Chiefs Conference

Demonstration of the potential improved fuel efficiency of village diesel power plants in the TCC region through the use of an Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) system for heat recovery from engine jacket water and exhaust.

High Penetration Hybrid Power System

University of Alaska Fairbanks

State-of-the-art power electronics to assess options for wind-diesel hybrid power systems to operate in a diesel-off mode.

Project Findings

The EETG has demonstrated several benefits of emerging energy technology programs for Arctic regions.

(1)    As a publicly funded program, information, data, and lessons learned generated by projects are available for public dissemination, providing insightful feedback to the industry, funders, and public. Projects and technologies can be refined and augmented, and information disseminated, which is particularly important for developing the nascent technologies and industries critical to addressing Arctic energy needs.

(2)    Solutions are developed under local conditions as opposed to external solutions being modified for local application. This allows for site- and region-specific technology optimized for localized need.

(3)    Much of the energy technology developed in Arctic regions is relevant to the fastest growing energy demand market: the developing world. This allows for the development of human capital and technical expertise with the ability to fill export markets. 

(4)    Access to funds is available for projects with limited opportunity otherwise. This includes technology that is already widely used and implemented in non-Arctic climates, niche technology that is relevant only to Arctic conditions, and projects and applicants otherwise restricted for or non-prioritized from other funding opportunities.

Next Steps

The one-time 2009 Denali Commission EETG solicitation was meant as seed money to demonstrate need and interest for emerging energy technology projects in Alaska. This demonstration proved successful, providing momentum in the Alaska Legislature for creating the Emerging Energy Technology Fund (EETF). This fund, administered by the Alaska Energy Authority (AEA), is financed by appropriations from the state legislature, federal appropriations, and contributions from other sources and is available to utilities, independent power producers, local and tribal governments, Alaska businesses, and non-profits. The Denali Commission's 2010 and 2011 Work Plans included $4 million total match funding for the EETF. This match funding approach replaces any future Denali Commission EETG solicitation.

As with the EETG, ACEP oversees data collection activities for the projects funded under the EETF, providing a range of support functions including technical assistance, instrumentation specification and installation, data collection system programming and commissioning. For more information, please see ACEP’s EETF project page.

Photo 1: A Review of Wind-Diesel Power ELectronics in Wales.  Courtesy of Jason Meyer, ACEP.

Photo 2: Field Instrumentation for Innovative Transmission Infrastructure Testicng.  Courtesy of Jason Meyer, ACEP.

Photo 3: The Tanana Chiefs Conference Organic Rankine Cycle Green Machine.  Courtesy of Todd Paris, UAF.