solar energy at home

Solar Energy in Alaska

"Solar energy in Alaska is perfect for
off-grid and low-power applications"

Alaska’s Solar Challenge

Alaska has some unique challenges when it comes to solar energy.

The solar potential of an area is defined by it’s solar insolation. Solar insolation measures how much solar radiation is received for a given surface area over a specified time period.

Solar Energy in Alaska
Solar Energy in Alaska
Image: Courtesy NREL

Most areas of Alaska, averaged over a full year, will receive less than 4 kWh/m2/day. However, the actual amount of solar potential on any given day will vary greatly depending on the time of year and your home’s location. For example, in December the average insolation for the month is 0 to 2 kWh/m2/day while in June it is 4 to 6 kWh/m2/day.

This variance is due to Alaska’s high latitude. As a result of being at such a high latitude, during the summer months some areas of Alaska will receive 24 hours of sunlight while in the winter they won’t receive any sunlight at all. Additionally, because of the curvature of the Earth, at this latitude the Sun will not shine straight down, which results in less intensity since it will be spread over a larger area due to coming in at an angle.

This page about solar energy for homes provides more explanation about the factors that determine your home’s solar potential.

Best Options for Solar Power in Alaska

Despite the challenges facing solar energy in Alaska, there are several good options that you may be able to take advantage of.

Interesting Solar Fact:

Alaska has more solar potential in April than in June due to snow-reflected light!

More Facts About Solar Energy

Regardless of where you live in Alaska, you should design your home to take advantage of passive solar energy.

For example, positioning your home so that most of the windows face south, using thermal mass to collect solar energy, and using natural ventilation to distribute solar thermal energy within your home are design aspects to consider. A well designed home can take advantage of passive solar energy for both heating and lighting needs.

Solar energy is also a great option for remote locations that don’t have access to the power grid. An off-grid, or stand-alone, solar power system is able to generate solar electricity in these type of scenarios. These systems can be scaled up or down depending on your power requirements. This is a great choice in cases where it is too costly to run power to the site from the grid.

In some cases, a hybrid alternative energy solution may be your best bet. In addition to solar energy systems, these solutions may also contain wind power technology or geothermal power systems. A good design will take advantage of these systems complementary features. Depending on your power needs, hybrid systems can also contain diesel powered generators.

Alaska Solar Energy Events & Expos

Know of an Alaska solar power event that's not listed?
Submit it!

A great way to learn how solar energy can be used in your area is to attend a solar energy event or green expo. This can be a seminar, a fair, or even a free class taught by a solar energy company doing business in your city.

Here are some solar energy events taking place in Alaska that were submitted by some of my readers.

Date Location Event
April 11, 2009 Anchorage, AK Alaska Green Fair
The mission of the Alaska Green Fair is to create excitement and enthusiasm for green products, services and technologies available to the residents ...
April 28-30, 2009 Fairbanks, AK 2009 Alaska Geothermal Conference
The 2009 Alaska Geothermal Conference will feature tours of the new power plant, geothermal greenhouse facilities, and a reception in the world-famous ...
May 18-19, 2009 Anchorage, AK Business of Clean Energy in Alaska Conference
The Business of Clean Energy in Alaska (BCEA) conference will showcase Alaska's opportunity to become a leader in Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy....
Know of a solar energy in Alaska event that's not listed?
Submit it!

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