In June 2010, Alaska established a goal to generate 50% of the state’s energy from renewable energy sources by 2025 and increase energy efficiency by 15% between 2010 and 2020. This ambitious 50% renewable energy target relies in good part on Alaska’s abundant hydroelectric power resources.
As one might expect Alaska has abundant hydro resources and it’s extensive hydroelectric systems account for nearly a quarter of state-wide energy production; a figure that is well above the national average for hydropower. It also has significant run of the river micro hydro (and micro wind as well) potential that is well suited for sparsely populated rural areas. Projects such as the high profile
Kantishna Micro Hydro Project are helping to give this renewable energy option a base from which to grow.
According to the Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) Alaska is sixth in the nation for geothermal energy. Sitting on the ring of fire and being such a cold place this renewable energy source certainly seems well suited to the state. Both for its electric generation, co-generation and also as a thermal energy source for space heating. At least three geothermal projects have been announced ranging from 5-25 MW, aided by two new state laws designed to make geothermal projects more economically viable. In June 2010, Alaska dramatically cut the royalties geothermal developers must pay on projects, as well as lightened regulatory burden on renewable schemes. The legislation makes geothermal power projects economically viable in the state and this renewable energy industry is expected to begin growing.
Although wind energy has not achieved a high penetration in Alaska, it is the fastest growing renewable energy sector in the state, and 20 communities get some of their power from the wind. The state is home to 10 renewable energy companies.
The Pew Center of The States Clean Economy Report provides these green economy employment numbers for Alaska: For the year 2007 it reports that there were 350 green or cleantech businesses in the state; green sector employment stood at: 2,140 . The number of green jobs in Alabama averaged a 9.4 % growth rate for the decade (1998- 2007) compared with the overall average job growth of 15.7% for the same decade.