Islands and remote communities in the United States often have expensive, unreliable energy systems, leaving them vulnerable to high energy costs and frequent power disruptions. These locations are also uniquely exposed during natural disasters and disproportionately impacted by climate change.
To help these communities identify, measure, and develop local clean energy resources, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the Energy Transitions Initiative Partnership Project (ETIPP). (ETIPP) will work alongside 11 remote and island communities to improve energy resilience by combining DOE’s deep energy experience with local organizations’ knowledge of and familiarity with local resources, values, and needs.
Island and remote coastal communities’ proximity to marine energy resources could be a critical link in the ocean economy of the future. This partnership is key to WPTO’s Powering the Blue Economy™ initiative that seeks to support remote and island communities to better understand their energy and water requirements and advance technologies utilizing marine renewable energy resources. These efforts aim to meet local economic development goals by providing cost-competitive, resilient energy and water systems. A key feature of ETIPP will be to tap into community expertise and knowledge to better understand how to support community values through ocean renewable energy deployment and technology development.
With support from WPTO and others, ETIPP expands on the work of DOE’s Energy Transitions Initiative (ETI). For decades, ETI has helped remote and island communities become more self-reliant by developing resilient energy systems. ETI’s efforts have resulted in reduced energy costs as well as more reliable, predictable, and replicable energy services. Some of ETI’s work is detailed in the Islands Playbook, which is available as a free download. ETI also offers Island Energy Snapshots as well as other case studies on its website, all of which are available as free downloads.
Building on ETI’s successes and to support the ETIPP effort, DOE has assembled resources from the Water Power Technologies Office, Solar Energy Technologies Office, Office of Strategic Programs, and Office of Electricity. DOE has also enlisted the technical expertise of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and Sandia National Laboratories to collaborate with specific communities. ETIPP expects to accommodate two cohorts of communities seeking technical assistance. Interested communities can apply for the second cohort in late 2021.
DOE chose five competitively selected community-based partner organizations with relevant experience and expertise:
- Alaska Center for Energy and Power
- Coastal Studies Institute
- Hawaii Natural Energy Institute
- Island Institute
- Renewable Energy Alaska Project.
Although communities will not receive direct funding, successful applicants will have access to in-kind support and resources from a range of technical and community-building experts. By tailoring information and strategies to individual islands and remote communities, the aim is to develop resilient, reliable, replicable, clean, and affordable energy systems for participants.
Prioritizing a community-led, inclusive approach, ETIPP identifies unique energy challenges and provides strategic assistance to help communities determine and direct their energy transition to realize local benefits and to meet accelerating renewable energy goals that lessen impacts from natural disasters and climate change.