I spoke with someone today who said they wanted to get a solar panel for their 24’x20′ home- because they like solar. Battery storage, selling kW to the local utility, and using fluids in solar thermal panels were all new and in this case the idea came up when talking about a specific use (which was powering LCD lights). Individual use is typically a way to augment overall electrical costs for a household.
On the community level, the use of renewables in Alaska varies- largely by region. The Alaska Energy Authority funded a study by the Alaska Center for Energy and Power which came out last week, and it spells out how wind, solar electric, biomass, and several other energy technologies have been implemented by 100 rural Alaskan communities (generally to augment the cost of producing energy by co-generating with diesel oil generators).
The study looks at the installation, operating and maintenance costs of renewable energy systems. It is somewhat of a unique set of factors to look when compared to other regions of the U.S. In Alaska there are dis-segmented rural small independent power stations that serve anywhere from less than a hundred to a couple thousand households which means that storage and reserves are all that more important of an element. This needs to be accounted for when tying in various sources of variable, renewable energy.-