Arctic Yearbook 2015 - Page 90

90 Arctic Yearbook 2015 results from residential combustion remediation. Notably, “nearly 50% of the remaining mitigation potential for black carbon emissions in the UNECE region is to be found in the residential heating sector”. Although the U.S. and Russia are responsible for nearly 50% of these emissions, the U.S EIA Annual Energy Outlook (2015) reports that federal tax credits and state renewable portfolio standards have driven a relatively robust growth of non-hydropower renewable sources. Renewable energy generation is projected to increase by “72% from 2013 to 2040, accounting for more than one-third of new generation capacity” (Energy Information Administration 2015: ES-6). In Alaska, renewable energy generation investment increased “dramatically,” driven by both a desire for energy security and as a means of reducing the high cost of energy delivery, particularly in remote ‘islanded’ locations where infrastructure is lacking, according to the Implementation Plan for Alaska’s Arctic Policy (2015). These drivers have prompted a wealth of research and development in new energy technology, public-private partnerships and a knowledge-based community. As an example, in the last ten years innovation has led to the growth of over 100 microgrid and related businesses designing techniques to feed renewables into isolated energy grids. The Plan seeks the support of the legislature to promote Alaska’s potential as a “global leader in microgrid deployment and operation to advance a knowledge-based export economy, creating new jobs and revenue for the state,” an aspiration potentially within reach given new alliances in the microgrids market such as that between ABB and Samsung SDI (Energy Industry Times 2015: 9). Indeed, technology, logistics and economics are both drivers and conversely deterrents to clean energy development, particularly in remote Alaska locations where diesel-dependent indigenous communities are “facing an unprecedented crisis” (Sikka, Thorton & Wori 2013: 1), thus prompting communitydriven renewable energy projects. By transforming the energy system a community not only reaps the benefit of reliable and cost effective energy delivery, but renewable energy development contributes to local decarbonisation and can also create a pathway to local economic development and job creation (Sikka, Thorton & Wori 2013). Conversely, numerous challenges limit rapid expansion of Alaska’s renewables – integration logistics with existing power grids is difficult given the highly limited infrastructures; fossil fuel subsidies deter investment into renewable energy; initial investment is often costly and investors are less likely to commit financial backing to projects that are yet commercially viable. Access to affordable energy is uneven throughout Alaska ranging from reasonable pricing in ‘urban’ areas to exceedingly costly in rural communities disconnected from the central grid. Wh