The Municipality of Anchorage and a company with ties to Iceland have partnered to study whether geothermal energy could be used to help power the largest city in Alaska.
Through a memorandum of understanding signed Aug. 15, Iceland Energy America Inc. will fully fund a study to gauge the feasibility of tapping regional geothermal reservoirs for electric generation and direct-use hot water in Anchorage.
In return, the municipality will provide “informational support” by identifying facilities, land ownership, lease arrangements and access to previous geothermal studies.
Iceland Energy America will start with a geologic survey to find the best spot for a test well. The study will cover not only Anchorage, but also lands and waters around the Cook Inlet and Mt. Spurr, the site of an upcoming state geothermal lease sale.
Iceland Energy America is a California company with ties to Iceland, a country famous for turning its vast geothermal resources into heat and electricity.
Iceland Energy America was formed in 2004 and currently operates several geothermal projects, many in California. One of the company’s largest shareholders, Enex of Iceland, has been involved with geothermal energy projects for 70 years.
“Currently Iceland’s capital Reykjavik is the largest municipal geothermal heating service in the world,” Magnus Jóhannesson, CEO of Iceland Energy America Inc., said during the signing ceremony with Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich. “This study will determine if Anchorage has the potential to take its place as number one.”
Begich said geothermal resources could be used to both lower energy costs in Anchorage and reduce locally produced greenhouse gas emissions.
If the upcoming study ultimately proves nearby geothermal resources to be viable for development, Anchorage could start to see the results by 2016, according to the municipality. The agreement covers only the study, not any future development plans.
— Eric Lidji