Tag Archives: Alaska Center for Energy and Power

Press Release: Report shows heat pumps economically viable in Alaska

laying the ground loop at Weller Elementary School

Ground source heat pumps offer an economically viable heating option in some places in Alaska, according to a new report from UAF’s Alaska Center for Energy and Power and the Cold Climate Housing Research Center.

The study found that the systems, which extract heat from the earth, are technically and economically viable in areas with high heating costs and low electric costs. The report, funded by the Denali Commission, offers the first in-depth assessment of ground source heat pumps in Alaska.

“There recently has been quite a bit of excitement about ground source heat pumps, as people are seeking more affordable heating options. Our report helps explain the technology in the context of Alaska, and analyzes its potential throughout the state,” said co-author Colin Craven, head of product testing at CCHRC.

There are roughly 50 heat pumps in Alaska, including high-profile commercial installations at Weller Elementary School in Fairbanks and the Juneau Airport Terminal as well as several residential installations around the state. A heat pump transfers energy from the earth or water to use for heating or cooling. The system consists of underground tubing filled with heat-transfer fluid, an electric pump and a heat distribution system.

Researchers reviewed the industry in Alaska, interviewed ground source heat pump owners and assessed the performance and economic viability of the technology in five cities: Fairbanks, Anchorage, Juneau, Bethel and Seward. They compared the cost and performance of heat pumps with traditional heating systems in an average-sized new construction home in each city. They found that heat pumps could match or beat other heating systems in Fairbanks, Juneau and Seward.

“Even though the ground source heat pumps have high up-front capital costs, which is what deters people from installing them, they end up costing less over 15 years just because you save so much money on annual energy costs,” said Dominique Pride, graduate researcher at ACEP and co-author of the report.

The systems are most economical in Juneau and Seward, where heating oil is expensive and electricity costs are low. They also potentially make sense in Fairbanks, which has more expensive electricity than Southeast and Southcentral but also higher heating demand and costs, thus more room for energy savings.

The analysis found the pumps are not economical in Anchorage, which has low heating and power costs thanks to inexpensive natural gas. And they are not viable in Bethel and most of rural Alaska because of its extremely high electricity costs.

In addition to economics, researchers looked at cold climate considerations on system performance, including the impact of ground source heat pumps on soil, as extracting heat could create more permafrost if the ground temperature doesn’t recover in the summer. Researches plan to install a pump at the CCHRC next year to further study the effects and viability of the systems.

CONTACTS: Julie Estey, 907-590-0879. Molly Rettig, CCHRC communications coordinator, 907-450-1772, molly@cchrc.org. Marmian Grimes, UAF public information officer, at 907-474-7902 or via e-mail at marmian.grimes@alaska.edu.

State of Alaska energy plan not popular with some lawmakers

From the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner on Wednesday, January 28, 2009:

A document submitted as a state energy plan falls short of its mark, while renewable energy projects submitted for funding might go too far, legislators said.

Members of the House Energy Committee, including Rep. Jay Ramras, R-Fairbanks, were critical of the Alaska Energy Authority’s state energy plan as director Steve Haagenson detailed the more than 240-page volume during a hearing Tuesday afternoon.

Rep. Bryce Edgmon, a Democrat from Dillingham and committee co-chairman, said calling the report an energy plan was something of a misnomer. Instead, the report seemed a “first step” toward a state energy plan, he said.

Click here to read the whole article.

State of Alaska $100 million energy proposal


report cover

The State of Alaska has published its proposal for grant allocation from the Alaska Renewable Energy Fund. This money will fund the construction of a wide range of alternative energy projects throughout the state. The total proposed expenditure from the State of Alaska is $100 million, with a Federal match of approximately $300 million.


Click here for a link to the Alaska Energy Authority page that outlines the proposal and links to relevant documents.

Energy center, borough study amount of Fairbanks greenhouse gas emissions

From the Fairbanks Daily Newsminer July 18 2008

The University of Alaska Fairbanks is crunching numbers to study how much greenhouse gas we emit.

The university’s Alaska Center for Energy and Power is conducting the study using a $20,000 grant from the Fairbanks North Star Borough.

The work will serve as a baseline document needed to responsibly advance a proposed coal-and-biomass-to-fuel project, borough Mayor Jim Whitaker said. Whitaker said organizers are committed to reducing the community’s aggregate emissions through that proposed project and its capacity for spinoff energy and heat generation.

Click here to read the full article.

Newsminer: Palin cuts money for energy research

From the Fairbanks Daily Newsminer May 29, 2008

A new energy research center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks is looking for alternative funding after Gov. Sarah Palin last week vetoed a $1.5 million state and federal appropriation for the center.

Palin’s budget director Karen Rehfeld said Wednesday the governor was concerned about the growth of the state’s operating budget and wanted to let the Alaska Energy Authority complete its statewide energy plan.

“Energy clearly is a huge priority for the state,” Rehfeld said, “but I think the governor wanted the other work to get done before we start deciding where we want to invest energy dollars.”

Click here to read the full article.