Solar Data Collection Begins in Yakutat

Solar Data Collection Begins in Yakutat

Yakutat, Alaska, population 552, sits on the glacial moraine of Hubbard Glacier, North America’s largest tidewater glacier. In 2013, the community used around 420,500 gallons of imported diesel fuel to generate electricity at a rate of $0.54 per kilowatt-hour. The state’s power cost equalization funding reduces the residential rate to $0.23 for the first 500 kilowatt-hours.

The community has looked into many renewable and alternative energy systems, including biomass, wind and wave energy. Wave energy research is ongoing through the Pacific Marine Energy Center, and a past study of the wind profile in Yakutat proved the air too turbulent for producing efficient electricity.

Another resource identified was solar. While Yakutat is located in between Southcentral and rainy Southeast Alaska, initial studies showed it had a good solar resource. On Aug. 7, ACEP’s Chris Pike and Henry Toal traveled to Yakutat to assemble a Campbell Scientific meteorologic tower that was primarily designed to measure solar irradiance. The device also measures wind direction and wind velocity, barometric pressure, temperature, and relative humidity.

The high-quality weather and irradiance data will be used by ACEP Solar Technologies program to better understand solar performance and feasibility modeling. It’s part of the broader effort to develop future options for the community of Yakutat that lower the cost of electricity and reduce the amount of diesel used to generate power.


ACEP intern Henry Toal installs a Campbell Scientific meteorologic tower in Yakutat. Photo by Chris Pike.