Hydrogen Fuel Assessment for Saint Paul Island
St. Paul Island
Saint Paul Island is one of the Pribilof Islands located in the middle of the Bering Sea, about 700 miles west of Anchorage. In 1999, Saint Paul’s native corporation, Tanadgusix Corporation (TDX), installed a stand-alone power system for its facility on St. Paul, including a high penetration hybrid wind/diesel power system that effectively takes advantage of St. Paul’s abundant wind resources. The system includes three 225 kW Vestas V27 wind turbines which operate at close to 100% availability and with a capacity factor above 40%.
As one of its services, TDX operates a small fleet of four buses to transport tourists and local elders around the island. The rising price of imported fossil fuel is making this, and all transportation, increasingly cost prohibitive for Saint Paul and many other rural Alaskan communities. TDX has a vision to meet this challenge in their wind-rich homeland by using the clean electricity from their existing wind turbines to fuel a new fleet of buses.
While switching to non-fossil fuels to operate their bus fleet would allow the community greater self-sufficiency, there are significant challenges associated with using wind energy to power vehicles. To assess these challenges, as well as the economics of a variety of options, TDX has contracted with the Alaska Center for Energy and Power (ACEP). ACEP researchers are conducting a thorough assessment of available technologies, including hydrogen fueled vehicles (both internal combustion engines and fuel cells), plug-in electric technology, and compressed air vehicles, as well as the economic and financial feasibility of replacing the existing diesel bus fleet. If a viable option for transportation fuels based on locally generated renewable energy is found for remote Alaskan communities such as Saint Paul, it could have a significant positive impact on the long term viability of those communities and reduce the cost of energy for residents.
ACEP and TDX are also hosting a series of community meetings on the island to ensure the people of Saint Paul are well informed and educated about their energy options. The goal is to actively engage and involve the community in all decision making aspects related to this project.
TDX Vestas wind turbines on St. Paul.