Solar and Battery Storage Microgrid displacing Diesel-fired Generation in remote Alaskan Village

A purely solar plus storage microgrid will help a remote Alaskan community reduce its reliance on diesel generators to provide electricity within the Arctic Circle.

Blue Planet Energy deployed the hybrid microgrid system for residents in the Shungnak community. The project was funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Northwest Arctic Borough.

An early feasibility study determined the system could overcome the extreme weather challenges in the region and help Shungnak eliminate the need for its diesel-powered generator sets.

“Reducing Shungnak’s reliance on diesel generators is a tremendous accomplishment for the community and further proves the viability of solar-plus-storage in even the most remote locations,” said Edwin Bifelt, founder and CEO of Alaska Native Renewable Industries. “The complexity of this project required high-quality technology, and we know Blue Planet Energy’s batteries will deliver long-term reliability.”

The microgrid includes a 225-kW solar array backed up by 12 cabinets of 32-kWh Blue Plant Energy Blue Ion LX battery systems to store excess solar energy for later use.

See EnergyTech's full coverage of Microgrid projects

See our complete reporting on Energy Storage

Subscribe to ET's free, tri-weekly newsletter for more Insights into the Mission Critical Energy Transition

The power plant still operates, but the microgrid communicates with the Alaskan Village Electric Cooperative (AVEC) system on deciding the best times to turn diesel generation off. Planners estimate that the microgrid could save 25,000 gallons of fuel per year for an estimated $200,000 in annual power generation savings.

“Producing power in rural Alaska is immensely difficult, between transporting fuel into town by plane or boat and battling temperatures that can freeze generator engines,” said Ava Gibson, head of sales for Blue Planet Energy. “Milestone projects such as this are an exciting promise to the people of both Alaska and rural communities around the world for an energy resilient future.”

The connection is AVEC’s first linkup with a microgrid in the region, according to reports.

(Rod Walton, senior editor for EnergyTech, is a 14-year veteran of covering the energy industry both as a newspaper and trade journalist. He can be reached at [email protected]).

Follow us on Twitter @EnergyTechNews_