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The new project, which is also supported by the Northwest Arctic Borough, comes under the wing of the Hawaii-based firm Blue Planet Energy.
Blue Planet is billing the new installation as a first-of-its-kind microgrid with a 225-kilowatt array of solar panels and 32-kilowatt hours’ worth of energy storage, specially engineered for functionality in extreme weather.
“The microgrid was designed to address the numerous challenges of operating in extreme conditions and break the community’s dependence on its expensive and polluting diesel generator power plant,” Blue Planet explains. “The resilient microgrid is integrated with 12 advanced Blue Ion LX battery storage cabinets and was installed by Alaska Native Renewable Industries in collaboration with Shungnak’s local utility, Alaska Village Electric Cooperative, (AVEC) and nonprofit Launch Alaska.”
The solar array won’t entirely sub in for diesel fuel, but it is expected to save the community more than $200,000 per year on fuel expenses alone. In addition, maintenance costs are expected to drop as use of the diesel generators is minimized.