Renewable Energy and Heat Recovery

Heat recovery systems have been installed in several rural Alaska communities through partnerships with the communities, their electricity providers, the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC), and funding agencies that include the Alaska Energy Authority, United States Department of Agriculture – Rural Development, the Denali Commission, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Energy, and the Indian Health Service.

Heat recovery systems use excess heat produced by electric generators to provide hot water in community water systems. Because only about one-third of the energy generated by fuel-burning diesel generators goes directly to creating electricity (up to 70 percent of that energy is ‘lost’ as heat), communities can save thousands of dollars each year by using that excess heat to heat water in the community water treatment plant.

In Savoonga, for example, a heat recovery system is expected to reduce annual heating fuel usage by 8,800 gallons, a savings of almost $40,000 each year. Wind to heat systems use the extra electricity generated from wind turbines during windiest weather to heat water in community sanitation systems, using electric boilers in the water treatment plant. Because the Alaska Village Electric Cooperative  has agreed to sell the extra power generated by its wind turbines at substantial discounts to the community sanitation utilities, a wind to heat system in Mekoryuk has reduced its water treatment heating costs to the equivalent of paying $1.46 per gallon for fuel oil since 2014.

Through ANTHC’s Rural Energy Initiative, remote Alaska communities are also working on energy efficiency, biomass, and hydroelectric projects.

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