Geothermal Resource Assessment Projects
Chena Hot Springs, Nome (Pilgrim Hot Springs), Granite Mountain, and Tenakee Springs
Project Lead: Gwen Holdmann, Anupma Prakash, Jo Malcolm
Alaska has numerous world-class geothermal resources, however Chena Hot Springs is currently home to the only operating geothermal power plant in the state. Geothermal energy is an ideal renewable resource where it is available. It can provide consistent, uninterruptable power (99% availability is typical), is based on commercially available technology, and can be used for space heating as well as electric power generation. Unfortunately, many resources are not located near population systems, and transmission can be cost-prohibitive.
The Alaska Center for Energy and Power (ACEP) is working with several utilities, land owners, and communities to quantify resources and assess options for geothermal development in several areas of the state.
This includes resource assessment projects at Pilgrim Hot Springs near Nome, Granite Mountain near Buckland, and Tenakee Springs in the Southeast. In addition, ACEP is conducting a more detailed follow-up analysis of the Chena geothermal resource . This will develop a clearer understanding of the maximum potential capacity of low-temperature resources, like the one at Chena, and assure these resources are developed sustainably.
ACEP is also working on refining the heat flow map of the State of Alaska, in partnership with the Department of Natural Resources and Southern Methodist Universities’ Geothermal Laboratory. This is the first step in identifying possible blind geothermal systems, and determining whether Alaska could develop any enhanced, or man-made geothermal projects in areas of elevated heat flow. Existing data is sparse, and ACEP is working to identify deeper holes throughout the state to obtain temperature measurements and improve the resolution of the geothermal gradient map.
Finally, ACEP is assessing opportunities for using the earth’s natural heat flow for space heating applications, using ground source or water-coupled heat pumps.
A geothermally heated and powered greenhouse at Chena Hot Springs Resort produces tomatoes and lettuce year-round. This is a cooperative project with the University of Alaska Agriculture and Forestry Experiment Station.