This week is the Alaska Wood Energy Conference in Fairbanks, and today a pre-conference tour to Superior Pellet Company will kick off the event (there was an early registration, thus this is not a solicitation for participants). The latest product folks will see on the tour is….a log. Actually, it looks like a gigantic pellet, and is made in the same way as the .5″ pellets you can hold in your hand; it is extruded from a mix of fine wood particles and thus has a glossy finish. The logs are longer burning than a natural chunk of wood, and have had the bark removed. http://www.newsminer.com/news/local_news/pellet-log-sales-are-hot-for-north-pole-company/article_2a073e7e-9c68-11e3-9bb2-0017a43b2370.html will give more information!
A relative overseas saw the March 24th blog post about Kivalina and their attempts at a solution utilizing biochar and honeybucket waste and mentioned his city’s efforts to energize their community off various types of waste: “…this community of Kristianstad where we now live uses almost all waste–from our kitchen compost (collected all over the city) to meat industry waste to create the fuel for our regional buses. The cut in dependence on fossil fuels is significant”. Here is an article to read more of the effort: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/11/science/earth/11fossil.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0. Biogas has been used on farms where methane capture from manure is utilized, and several Alaskan fish processors have asked and talked about the possibilities of using fish waste. Community wide ‘recycling’, though, to the highest scale-beyond newspapers, glass and metal cans- is unique.
Several articles have come out in the last year highlighting the Alaskan villages that are imminently relocating (known as ‘climigration’) due to permafrost melting and eroding shoreline. Regardless of cause or retractability of the effects, many across Alaska have seen habitat, climate and migration changes as our weather seems to be in flux (at least in the short run, and as J. Maynard Keynes once said, “in the long run, we’re all dead”). So initial actions by nations have been discussed, yet the uncertainty of Ukraine/Russia relations per natural gas supplies has put a damper on nation’s responses to the report. We will have to see if much is made out of the prescriptive, while the descriptive is yet a work in progress!
This email just in from AIDEA should be hopeful news to Interior Alaskan residents- but maybe even more so for businesses:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 3, 2014
AIDEA Board Approves Interior Energy Project Loans
Financing Provided to Advance Natural Gas Distribution Systems
(Anchorage) – The Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority (AIDEA) Board on Thursday approved two Sustainable Energy Transmission and Supply Development Fund (SETS) loans to advance natural gas distribution systems in Fairbanks and North Pole.
These SETS loans, to Fairbanks Natural Gas, LLC (FNG) and Interior Gas Utility (IGU), are part of the Interior Energy Project. The project was introduced by Governor Sean Parnell in 2013. The Legislature then approved a bill that provides the financial tools needed to liquefy natural gas on the North Slope for trucking to the Interior, and to help develop natural gas distribution systems in Fairbanks and North Pole. The goal is to bring low cost natural gas to as many Interior Alaskans as possible – as soon as possible.
The first loan, to Fairbanks Natural Gas, LLC, is for $15,000,000 to fund the 2014 initial development and build-out of an expanded gas distribution system within FNG’s certificated service area. The project includes constructing 32 miles of new distribution system. This additional distribution system will allow FNG to connect 100 commercial and 2,500 residential services to their existing service area.
The second loan, to Interior Gas Utility, is for $8,100,000 to fund IGU’s initial work needed to develop their distribution system and affiliated infrastructure. This project includes engineering design, permitting and program management. It is projected that the distribution build-out of IGU’s service area will provide natural gas service for more than 11,000 residents.
The Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority is a public corporation of the state. AIDEA’s purpose is to promote, develop and advance the general prosperity and economic welfare of the people of Alaska.
Do increasing fuel prices stress you out? Ever wish you could do something about it? Here’s your chance! Organizations around Fairbanks are competing with each other in the annual “Don’t be Fuelish” competition. The idea is to see which group of employees can save the most fuel traveling to and from work without driving alone in a motor vehicle. The organization with the best combination of saving fuel when ranked by a weighted average of total miles, miles per capita, and days per participating employee will receive the prestigious Fuel Can Award. There will also be recognition of individual achievements for being less fuelish.
The competition will begin April 1 and end September 30. To save fuel for your organization you can car pool with a co-worker or neighbor, take the bus, bike, walk or run to work. you can even use a combination of these methods to get to work. All you need to do is keep track of the number of miles you save by using a fuel-efficient commute and record those miles on the handy Don’t be Fuelish Calendar, and at the end of each month report your non-fuelish ways on the supplied form. At the end of the competition, we will tally the results to determine which group has the least fuelish employees and wins the competition. Remember, any number of miles you save on your commute using the above mentioned methods helps your organization in pursuit of the prestigious Fuel Can Award.
So join us in this effort to save fuel this summer. Any effort you put into this will help. It’s good for your health, it’s good for the air, and it’s good for your pocketbook! Go now to dontbefuelishfairbanks.com and sign up your workplace!
There is an effort in the village of Kivalina to produce ‘biochar’ for sanitation, which could turn feces waste into a sustainable energy source! By collecting the waste and letting it be processed through a method of heating it up, and often the BTUs drop out. Yet what is left is a charred substance which could be used as a ‘holding reservoir’ for nutrients and water in fields/gardens. It would come out of production looking like charcoal and probably put into briquet form. It will take some experimenting with temperature and lab work to reduce germ carries, but it might be the best set up at the household level to get rid of biological hazard and put it to use for energy or horticulture work! We shall see how it is used and how much effort is required.
A recent article noted that 14 biomass boilers (read primarily wood) will be added to rural communities with boilers going into Galena, Kake, Ketchikan, Haines, Minto, and Yakutat next year. After a process of studies and vetting, the Alaska Energy Authority’s $20 million Renewable Energy Fund is the source of funds for these projects. The Anchorage Daily News Article is at http://www.adn.com/2014/03/20/3383922/alaska-energy-authority-plans.html). Right now the state has assisted with about a dozen and a half communities getting biomass boilers with about half being in Southeast Alaska and the other half in the Interior/South Central region. They are used for community building/school space heat, hydronics (heating water) and even vegetable growing. These units run on cord wood logs, large chips, as well as pellets. One of the big questions on these large boilers is performance in terms of efficiency and particulate matter with air quality in mind. The units are tested and EPA approved before being available on the boiler market, yet this is under pristine, lab like conditions with fuel supplies that are uniform (which is not the situation most communities will burn in with various types of wood/material, bark and dirt attached as well as different wood moisture levels due to harvesting times and various storage methods). Thus this is an area for more research that will eventually help the boiler operators eventually.
Yesterday SB 241 passed the Alaska Senate by a majority, which will open up the way for a loooong process. The entire slated at hundreds of billions of dollars (even if there are no cost overruns and everything is on time as projected) and has many stages to go through before consumers will realize energy cost relief via burning natural gas. Yet these type of projects have to take a long time due to the specs. that are required, the engineering studies, the movement at different rates of the partners (here it would primarily be the State of Alaska and TransCanada- a company that has a lot of experience in the physical pipeline). The Deputy Commissioner of Revenue Mike Pawloski mentioned yesterday that there are many steps along the way for a project like this to pull off, and much continual study along the way to see if it is feasible. But it is a start toward something that would extend a pipeline from the Northslope down to Kenai processors. Keep your eyes open, as there may be more legislation yet this session that could carve the landscape in Alaska’s energy future!
A blog on SAP business innovation page mentions technology being a tipping point, and relates how scientific ‘lab’ investigations of electric storage and even dark matter may enter useable applications per energy use in the next decade or so (http://blogs.sap.com/innovation/industries/trends-in-technology-space-tourism-electric-cars-and-dark-matter-01243896?campaigncode=CRM-XH13-B2D-ONDIRLNB&source=onlinedisplay-us-general-tld-US004). Not much is said about the distance threshold on electric vehicles, yet it does mention motorcycles may be on the horizon, and that wireless charging may become mainstream (however that would work). And of course hydrogen cells. The space travel may be the most interesting section, and I suppose from an energy point of view, when opportunities hit the mainstream it will be liquid nitrogen/oxygen we’ll be talking about as normal as lunch conversation is now on OPEC (mentioned) or wood. (Take a look at the article and see what you think).
The Southwest Alaska Municipal Conference ended Friday, and much of the first day concentrated on energy presentations. Cold Bay, King Salmon, Kodiak, Adak, and other communities from the Bristol Bay/Aleutians area had representatives present as well as Anchorage based office staff of SWAMC. Perceptions, costs, community based applications, etc… There was a concentration of in the immediate getting BTU’s and electricity from fish guts/bones and wastes which are a byproduct of canneries; there were regional reps from a couple of the fish processors in on strategy groups as well as sessions. There was talk of tidal/wave and geothermal energy yet a realistic understanding that these are large projects that would be far off into the future before producing for industry or home use. Most interesting, there was a review the third day of new traffic and demand realities that are up and coming in the future with the increase of traffic in the Bering Straight the next few decades (as well as concern over who will clean up a spill or take care of the classic tragedy of the commons which could occur. This is an active area with Dutch Harbor being one of the top 10 worldwide ports (in terms of activity). The leaders at the conference were on topic, and see directly how energy involves their remote grids -and daily lives.