ORPC Inc.’s (ORPC) first river energy project, RivGen® Power System, has been operational in the village of Igiugig, Alaska, since October 2019. It has weathered two challenging Alaskan winters — -40°C temperatures, a frazil ice event, and the breakup of roughly 2 feet of ice on Lake Iliamna which drifted over the top of the RivGen®.
With this success, ORPC sees the RivGen®-based smart microgrid system can convert a large number of off-grid Alaskan communities to a 100% renewable energy solution, while at the same time reducing the cost of electricity for these communities who have the highest electric rates in the United States. By proving this technology in the challenging Alaskan environment, ORPC is poised to establish a strong foundation for deploying their unique technology throughout the state, from remote communities with river or tidal resources to the large-scale tidal energy opportunity in Cook Inlet.
During the National Hydropower Association’s (NHA) 2021 Alaska Regional Meeting taking place August 15-16, 2021, at the Lakefront Anchorage in Anchorage, one of the featured presentations will be on the installation of the RivGen Power System.
Registration for the event is open and NHA invites any waterpower professional to attend; membership in NHA is NOT required to attend. A professional development hours (PDH) certificate will be provided to attendees after the event.
The Deep Dive about RivGen
ORPC has a long and established history of developing marine energy in Alaska, using local supply chains and creating overall benefits for the economy. Since the mid-2010s, the company has worked collaboratively with the Village of Igiugig. Today, the village and ORPC are partners on the installation of: a two-device RivGen Power System in the Kvichak River; a grid upgrade using smart controls; and installation of a battery energy storage system.
The first RivGen device is now the longest operating river hydrokinetic installation in the Americas. The second device will be installed in 2021, along with smart microgrid controls and battery energy storage system mentioned above.
“ORPC needed to prove the technology, and our village needed to prove that it didn’t impact our fish resources, could survive our harsh environment, and be handled with equipment we have on hand,” said Igiugig Village Council President AlexAnna Salmon. “Together, what we’ve achieved to date is remarkable and worth sharing. With the recent purchase of our battery energy storage system, we are looking at the potential to go diesels off in 2021.”
Salmon was raised in the Village of Igiugig and graduated from Dartmouth College with a dual degree in Native American Studies and Anthropology. She holds a Masters of Arts degree in Alaska Native Studies and Rural Development. She will be on hand at the Regional Meeting to share her perspectives.
According to Karl Hill, Igiugig Village Council Vice President: “The valuable experience and training that our local workforce has gained through this project can’t be understated. The Igiugig community now has the capabilities to deploy and retrieve the RivGen device with very little help from outside contractors. Our growing autonomy and skill set around operation and maintenance of the system make the project much more cost effective for us.”
As a result of the success in Igiugig, multiple other Alaskan communities adjacent to rivers and tidal waters have reached out to ORPC about providing sustainable renewable energy solutions for their areas.
In Addition to Marine Energy:
Details about the Alaska Regional Meeting
Beyond the presentation about the RivGen installation at Igiugig, content for the Alaksa Regional Meeting is being pulled together by industry thought leaders and waterpower professionals who are active in the Alaska region. Organizations represented include: Alaska Energy Authority, Alaska Power Association, American Hydro, Andritz, Black & Veatch, Cordova Electric, Emerson, GE Renewable Energy, H2O Ecopower, HDR, Kleinschmidt, Mavel, McMillen Jacobs, MESA Associates, NuSTREEM, ORPC, Pacific Marine Energy Center, SMI, Southeast Alaska Power Agency, South East Conference, Stantec, Troutman Pepper, the U.S. Department of Energy, and Voith.
This regional meeting is sponsored at the national sponsor level by American Hydro, Andritz, Black & Veatch, Emerson, GE, HDR, Kleinschmidt, Mavel, MESA Associates, Stantec, Thompson | HCMS, Troutman Pepper, TurbinePros, and Voith and regional sponsor NuSTREEM. Media sponsor is NHA’s POWERHOUSE media platform.
About the Author: Merrick Jackinsky holds a degree in Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering and in Astronautics and Robotics from the Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. He is a life-long Alaskan who has worked as an Engineering Specialist with Siemens and as a Mechanical Engineer with Central Alaska Engineering Co.