New Energy Technology Facility helps research in renewable energy

Ian Larsen/Sun Star Reporter
Feb. 14, 2012

Money is power. At the University of Alaska Fairbanks, power is power. In Alaska it’s easy to take the state’s vast resources for granted, but thanks to the newest building on campus, UAF researchers will learn how to maximize those researchers. The Geophysical Institute and the Alaska Center for Energy and Power developed the soon-to-open Energy Technology Facility.

Alaska has more fossil and renewable energy resources than any other state in the nation,” according to the ACEP website. “Alaska has the potential for long-term sustainable energy production through development of its natural gas, coal, oil, hydropower, tidal, geothermal and wind resources to meet the energy needs of the state and beyond.”

UAF built the facility to use these vast amounts of renewable energy and house the projects. 

The ACEP team will celebrate the grand opening of the new Energy Technology Facility with a ribbon cutting at 5:30 p.m. Feb 15. ACEP will introduce researchers and the current energy projects that are in development.

This facility is located across from the Lola Tilly Commons and will allow ACEP to to house many of their projects on campus.

“We have research projects all over the state,” ACEP Director Gwen Holdmann said. “Battery research is done at Golden Valley, we have some wind energy research projects and hydrokinetics projects in rural areas.”

The facility will allow ACEP and other university researchers to easily perform large energy projects such as waste recovery, diesel fuel efficiency, advance-technology batteries, rural-community-scale power and wind-diesel technology. Through this research ACEP will be able to find cheaper and more sustainable ways to power Alaska.

The project broke ground last fall, and in less then a year the building is about to open for research.

The facility cost $4 million and consists of three main bays: the diesel bay, wind and battery bay, and the hydrokinetics bay.

ACEP will use the facility to try to combine three different types of energy — wind, batteries and diesel — to reduce the amount of fuel needed to power communities. By using wind energy to charge the batteries, the system will switch to battery power when the wind becomes weak, allowing communities to run diesel fuel as backup when both renewable energy sources are unavailable.

“We are doing a lot of research with wind energy,” ACEP researcher David Light said. “By using a combination of wind energy, batteries and diesel we can cut down fuel costs substantially. A place that has a high wind source like Kodiak could utilize this type of technology.”

“By constructing this facility here, just about all of the Geophysical Institute’s research teams will be able to utilize the facility, involving a good chunk of the campus,” Holdmann said. “Instead of having our research projects split up throughout the state, this facility gives us a central area to use for testing, which will bring research back to UAF.”

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