by Alaskan Command Public Affairs
8/22/2014 - FAIRBANKS, Alaska -- Hot
springs that generate geothermal energy, pellets to replace wood in
fireplaces and turning garbage into an energy source were all things
members of Alaskan Command learned when they visited the 9th Annual
Alaska Renewable Energy Fair and the Alaska Center for Energy and Power
in Fairbanks Sunday.
Air Force Lt. Col. Adrian Crowley and Air Force Maj. Jason Toole
attended the site visit with Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Secretary of Energy
Dr. Ernest Moniz to learn more about renewable energy research and
needs in Alaska.
"It's important for the Defense Department to look at renewables and
alternative types of energy because of the amount of consumption we
have," Crowley said. "We want to be good stewards of the environment,
reduce our operating costs, and ensure energy resilience ... and these
visits help us understand how we can do that."
The annual fair is hosted by the Chena Hot Springs Resort where the
director harnessed and now uses geothermal power to operate a year round
"We were given a $3 million grant to study geothermal energy and bring
it to Alaska," said Bernie Karl, director of the Chena Hot Springs
resort. "And we've been able to do it. Working with the University of
Alaska Fairbanks, we built the furthest north year-round production
greenhouse in the world. When it's negative fifty degrees outside at
Chena Hot Springs, we're still growing lettuce, tomatoes and other
various crops in our temperature-controlled greenhouse."
Alaska is a prime laboratory for energy research, because even though
the state produces oil, delivery to the far flung corners of the state
is difficult and expensive.
According to the director of the Alaska Center for Energy and Power at
the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, Gwen Holdmann, Alaska provides a
living laboratory because energy needs can be very sudden, very dramatic
and very destructive. "Here in Alaska, we are technology agnostic. We
use whatever works because we have to."
Examples of that innovation by Alaskans can be found all over. In
Igiugig, the population of 60 installed a hydrokinetic energy device and
has the cleanest dump in the state because it has found ways to use
methane and to recycle.
"Surfing is a major pastime in Yakutat, and they have found a way to
harness wave energy," Holdmann said. "The 750 residents of St. Paul
Island have gone 15 years using wind energy without a battery. The
airport is run completely on that energy. They also use black blades to
help shed ice on the turbine because the sun is attracted to it in the
winter. That has significantly cut down on energy costs for them."
Kodiak Island's energy is now 100 percent renewables and Cordova's power system is totally underground.
Twelve percent of the world's microgrids reside in Alaska. There are
more microgrids in the nation's 49th state than anywhere else in the
Energy Secretary Moniz reiterated the department's Revolution Now
initiative to bring alternative and renewable fuels to the United
"These initiatives are important because there is substantial warming at
some latitudes," he said. "In Alaska, there is real innovation going on
here because there are difficult energy issues in remote villages.
Renewable technology could help mitigate some of that disruption."
The defense department has an important mission to conduct homeland
defense, civil support, and mission assurance in Alaska to defend and
secure the United States and its interests. This responsibility requires
effective and efficient sources of energy to ensure success. Renewable
energy offers the DoD opportunities to diversify their energy portfolio
in Alaska while also potentially providing more cost effective ways to