Alaska Considers Geothermal Power Plant on Remote Volcanic Island


Alaska is considering creating a geothermal energy plant on an uninhabited island in Alaska’s Cook Inlet.

Augustine Island is fairly remote, even as Alaskan islands go. It is 60 kilometers (37 miles) from the closest town, but the island has recently attracted attention as a potential location for a geothermal power installation.

The Alaska Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Oil and Gas gave the island an overview before they put out a lease sale for geothermal energy on the island in 2013. The geothermal lease was sold on a 10-year lease cycle, though at the moment there is no geothermal development happening at all in the state, according to Diane Hunt, spokeswoman for Division of Oil and Gas.

Some of Alaska’s power plants serve rather remote places. Such is the case with the region’s closest power plant, located in Nikiski, more than 100 miles away. Part of the pitch for the geothermal plant was that it would be a better source of renewable energy for cities in the vicinity, like Homer.

“Developing geothermal resources requires that economics are favorable for power generation,” the geothermal overview document reads. “Siting, permitting and customer markets must overcome the risk of bearing the high exploration and capital investments in the initial development phases … Power generation from geothermal resource in Cook Inlet could augment existing power sources.”

The only development on the island at the moment is a volcanic activity monitoring installation created by University of Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute alongside the Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Survey. If the geothermal project moves ahead, there won’t be much competing over space.