ARENA Creates Knowledge Network to Benefit Arctic Communities

ARENA Creates Knowledge Network to Benefit Arctic Communities

The Arctic Remote Energy Networks Academy is a unique circumpolar knowledge-sharing program focusing on isolated power systems integration. The program is held in partnership with Canada, Gwich’in Council International, the United States and Iceland. It’s endorsed by the Sustainable Development Working Group of the Arctic Council.

Implementing innovative energy solutions is technically, socially and culturally complex. The Arctic, without access to the types of centralized energy services common in the more developed world, is leading the way in establishing the energy systems of the future. The isolated location, challenging environments and social fabrics of these remote off-grid systems have required Arctic utilities and communities to become experts in distributed generation and resource integration.

An August 2019 Navigant Research report noted that over 1,500 communities with a total population exceeding 1.5 million inhabitants across the Arctic region rely on locally generated power, mostly served by some form a microgrid.

In 2017, the Arctic Remote Energy Networks Academy program was piloted as a project endorsed by the Arctic Council's Sustainable Development Working Group to foster and grow this regional energy expertise. Seventeen energy champions from three Arctic states and three Arctic Indigenous peoples’ groups met in Alaska, Canada and Iceland to build a robust knowledge-sharing and professional network related to microgrids, the integration of renewable energy resources and associated technologies for remote Arctic communities. The United States, Canada, Finland, Iceland, Gwich'in Council International and Aleut International Association co-led the program.

Experience across the Arctic has resulted in a strong awareness of what works, what doesn’t and what improvements are needed. Sharing and applying this expertise is what ARENA is about, so future projects can benefit from past experience and engage with activities and expertise throughout the region.

Building on the strengths and successes of the 2017 pilot, the United States, in partnership with Canada and Iceland, is planning the next ARENA program for 2020.

To learn more about the program and applicant eligibility, or to see highlights from the 2017 pilot program, please visit


2017 ARENA participants tour a hydroelectric power plant near Yellowknife in Canada’s Northwest Territories. Photo by Amanda Byrd.