NANA Regional Corporation
Community-Scale Solar Energy Deployment in the Northwest Arctic
Type of Application
DOE Grant Number
See project status
Project Period of Performance
Start: September 2016
End: December 2018
This project proposes the design, procurement, installation, and operation of 500 kilowatts (kW), 75 kW, and 50 kW, respectively, of solar photovoltaic (PV) arrays in Kotzebue, Buckland, and Deering, Alaska. These system sizes have been determined based on community size, summertime loads, existing diesel gen-set and wind turbine configurations and switchgear, distribution capacity, wind and solar energy resource regime and production, and related technical and economic considerations. This project will combine several innovative institutional and financing approaches to lower electricity costs in the three Alaska Native Inupiat communities.
All three of these individual systems will be owned by NANA Energy, a newly created LLC for this project. With full local utility participation, this will allow for optimum efficiency, least-cost grid integration, and maximum fuel reduction and cost savings for tribal members and local residents. All kilowatt-hours (kWh) generated from the solar PV will directly displace diesel fuel and reduce overall electricity costs for the entire community.
NANA Regional Corporation, Inc. is an Alaska Native corporation formed in 1971 under the Alaska Native Land Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA). The NANA region is located in northwest Alaska and encompasses 38,000 square miles, most of which is above the Arctic Circle. There are 11 villages in this remote region, none of which are road connected. Energy and other costs are extremely high, as all fuel and manufactured goods must be shipped in. Subsistence harvesting, including whales, walrus, seal, fish, and caribou, is the basis of the NANA villages’ spiritual and economic well-being.
This project, led by NANA, is a combined effort of three Alaska Native Inupiat communities—Kotzebue, Buckland, and Deering—to address common energy challenges and opportunities by developing high- penetration wind-solar-battery-diesel hybrid systems through collaboration with Tribal IRA Councils, local electric utilities, a national cooperative financial institution, and others.
High energy costs in the NANA region not only constrict economic development, but also contribute to energy and food insecurity to the point where basic community viability and survival are brought into question. From a technology perspective, it is believed that high-penetration renewable hybrid systems are both a short- and long-term solution that is rapidly emerging with ongoing reductions in energy storage and PV generation costs.
Each of the three communities is an energy island, operating its own diesel-based isolated microgrid, along with wind turbines supplying supplemental power. Kotzebue is also currently installing a lithium-ion battery and grid-forming converter that will inform future efforts in the other partner communities. All diesel fuel, as well as other manufactured goods, must be flown or shipped in, as there are no roads connecting the communities to any other location.
Project Objectives and Scope
The primary goals of this project are to:
- Lower energy costs for the communities of Kotzebue (population 3,200), Buckland, (population 450) and Deering (population 140)
- Reduce diesel fuel use and increase renewable energy deployment in these communities
- Develop clean energy job skills and expertise among residents in the three communities
- Demonstrate the success of high-penetration solar-wind-storage-diesel hybrid systems in remote high- latitude locations for broad replication.
This project to install a total of 625-kW of solar PV systems is calculated on an annual basis to produce 802,400 kWh and displace 59,028 gallons of diesel fuel. It is also anticipated that approximately 10 full-time employee (FTE) positions will endure for approximately four months as a direct result of project activities and one FTE for the entire equipment lifecycle (25 years).
All buildings and other consumers of energy within each community will benefit from the PV generation, including schools, residences, community and tribal buildings, health clinics, and local businesses.
This project will install solar PV in three Alaska Native Inupiat communities: Kotzebue, Buckland, and Deering. These remote villages are located in the Northwest Arctic and are not connected by roads. All three solar PV sites will be located at or near the existing wind farms to simplify interconnection and grid integration, and obviate any site control issues.
The project was competitively selected under the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Indian Energy’s Fiscal Year 2015 funding opportunity announcement “Deployment of Clean Energy and Energy Efficiency Projects on Indian Lands – 2015” (DE-FOA-0001390) and started in September 2016.