June 16, 2002
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DESIGN OF AN ENERGY-EFFICIENT HYBRID POWER SOURCE FOR REMOTE LOCATIONS AS A STUDENT PROJECT
Authors: Richard W. Wies and John D. Aspnes Affiliation: University of Alaska Fairbanks
Abstract -- This paper describes an undergraduate or graduate level student project that involves the design of an energy-efficient hybrid power source for remote communities that have no connection to other electric utility systems. One such application is the development of stand- alone electric power sources for Native American villages in rural Alaska. This student project addresses many facets of engineering design and development including system component design and system integration, as well as environmental and social impacts, and economic concerns. The design requires consideration of all possible energy sources and energy conversion alternatives in the development of a hybrid system. Available energy sources may include wind, solar, small head or river hydro, thermoelectric generators, microturbine technology, and thermoelectric systems, battery and other energy storage devices combined with the existing diesel/electric or gasoline/electric generators. The selection of energy sources for this application depends not only on the power requirements and location, but also on environmental, economic, social, and political concerns. Economic considerations include the life cycle cost and estimated unit cost of electricity generated. System efficiency must also be determined, including the possibility of utilizing waste thermal energy. A major factor in this design is the transfer of the technology to rural Alaskan communities which have limited technical literacy.
The need for energy-efficient electric power sources in remote areas is a driving force for research in alternative and hybrid energy systems. This topic is very important for Alaska which has more than 200 remote communities  and for developing countries such as Mexico, which has approximately 85,000 villages each with a population less than 1000 persons. Most of the remote Alaskan communities have no access to the electric utility system and rely on diesel- electric generators (DEGs) for electric power. These systems are typically uneconomical due to the shipping costs of fuel and require routine maintenance due to operating conditions [2,3]. Efforts are already underway to build hybrid systems in remote villages of Alaska such as the diesel/photovoltaic/battery electric power system in Lime Village, Alaska backed by the Alaska Energy Authority (AEA). The University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) College of Science, Engineering, and Mathematics is stepping up to the challenge with the newly developed Arctic Energy Technology Development Laboratory (AEDTL) whose mission is to promote research and development of energy technologies in Arctic regions. Projects which involve remote power technologies in Arctic climates will combine student and faculty research efforts with government and private industry collaboration.
Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright© 2002, American Society for Engineering Education
Wies, R., & Aspnes, J. (2002, June), Design Of An Energy Efficient Hybrid Power Source For Remote Locations As A Student Project Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--10222
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