“The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind.” —Bob Dylan, 1962 Bob Dylan’s musical refrain for peace and social justice in the 1960s could well serve as an anthem for alternative energy in Alaska in 2012. Before the end of the year, energy generated by wind turbines will make significant new contributions to electrical grids in communities and villages across the state. The renewable energy generated provides, in part, an answer to issues regarding diesel fuel costs and potential natural gas supply shortages that have plagued power providers in recent years.
The fluid resource that flows above the 49th state—its wind—is fast becoming among Alaska’s cache of valuable natural resources, with a variety of private and public projects in the works. With its economy historically built on the heavy industrial sectors—oil and gas, mining, timber harvest—Alaska is poised to join the global renewable energy wave, looking to the successes of northern countries like Denmark and others as example.
The logistics of getting natural gas from Alaska to Asian buyers are relatively straightforward. About 800 miles via pipeline from the North Slope to tidewater somewhere in Cook Inlet or maybe Valdez. Liquefy the gas, load it aboard tankers, then 3,400 miles by sea to Japan. Or a little farther to China. Pretty simple to draw the lines on a map.