Shungnak Community Microgrid Solar Project
Shungnak, Ala. | 225 kW + 384 kWh
Above the Arctic Circle, in the remote village of Shungnak, Alaska, against the backdrop of a pristine wooded landscape, residents would hear the constant sound (and smell) of a diesel-based power plant system. These generators weren’t economical or convenient either. Fuel needs to be transported into town (on World War II era planes, mind you), carrying costs that recently hit $15 a gallon.
Maybe these generators are more reliable in those frigid temperatures than alternative sources of energy? Hardly. Plant operators must check them at least three times a day to ensure they haven’t frozen over. Should a problem arise when no one is there, the system will cut itself off — an especially dangerous problem during -20 to -40 degrees Fahrenheit weather.
By the way, Alaska has over 200 communities operating on a similar diesel generator system.
Enter the 2022 Microgrid Project of the Year, funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Northwest Arctic Borough. The Shungnak microgrid project represents the Alaska Village Electric Cooperative (AVEC)’s highest penetration of solar as well as the utility’s first integration of battery storage. It was installed by Alaska Native Renewable Industries and Daylight Energy Services in collaboration with AVEC and nonprofit Launch Alaska.