Did you know… Alaska uses geothermal energy to produce electricity?

It might seem highly unlikely that geothermal energy could be harnessed in the Arctic climate of Alaska considering HOT water is required. However, this is not the case! Geothermal reservoirs can be found almost anywhere in the world. In fact, Alaska has 97 known thermal springs and is one of eight states to use geothermal energy to produce electricity. The first geothermal power plant in Alaska launched in 2006 at Chena Hot Springs and can generate up to 730 kilowatts of power. It is located in the Interior hot springs geothermal region.

The Chena Hot Springs Resort uses geothermal energy in many different ways. The geothermal energy generated supplies power and heat to its greenhouses, swimming pools, and other facilities. In order to produce the power, a binary plant, that runs on the organic Rankine cycle, is used with a generating capacity of 680 kW. The plant runs on 165˚F (~73.9˚C) water meaning the geothermal power plant generates electricity at the lowest temperature in the world. The resort also has a 16-ton absorption chiller, which uses geothermal energy to keep their outdoor ice museum frozen all year round.

Including the Interior hot springs, there are two other active geothermal regions in Alaska – the Southeast hot springs and the “Ring of Fire” volcanoes. The Interior hot springs run from the Yukon Territory in Canada to the Seward Peninsula in Alaska. The “Ring of Fire” volcanoes include the Alaska Peninsula, Mount Edgecumbe, the Aleutians, and the Wrangell Mountains.

Currently, the Alaska Center for Energy and Power, or ACEP, is working with landowners, multiple utilities, and communities to assess resources and evaluate options for the development of geothermal energy in multiple parts of the state.