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Bristol Bay fishing villages are diesel dependent. Chilling improves commercial value of fish. Tides could sustainably meet power needs.



The fishing communities of rural Bristol Bay have an urgent need for renewable power into improve seafood products, this generally means electricity for chilling seafood at the site were the food is caught. The University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) Bristol Bay Campus (BBC) in cooperation with UAF School of Fisheries and Ocean Science (SFOS), City of Dillingham (CoD), Nushagak Electrical and Telephone Coop (NETC), Bristol Bay Economic Development Corp (BBEDC), and ABS Alaskan proposes to assess the hydrokinetic potential of the coastal tides in Alaska as a a power source to chill the commerical catch. Phase one wil demostrate the potential of using tital power to make ice needed to chill the catch for commerical fisheries. The Dillingham Tidal Hydrokinetic Project will deploy a 25kW rated low-flow hydrokinetic turbine system in Nushagak Bay at the confluence of the Nushagak and Wood Rivers. The hydrokinetic turbine could be similar to that manufactured by NEC and deployed in Eagle, AK in 2010. This project will use a floating turbine supported by a pontoon structure.  All power generatede in this project will be used by the City of Dillingham ce plant to produce lower cost ice for the Nushagak fishing fleet.

Category of the action

Reducing emissions from electric power sector.

What actions do you propose?

Hydrokinetic energy has been identified as a potential alternative energy source for rural Alaska. This project will test a hydrokinetic system and investigate the potential cost-benefit and simple pay-back period. The minimum current required is typically1–2 m/s1 At Snag Point UAF BBC has measured tidal currents in excess of 3m/s with averages between 1 and 2 m/s.
System component costs are defined and largely driven by economy of scale – as more systems are deployed, costs should decrease. System deployment, operation, maintenance, and retrieval costs are significantly impacted by the development and refinement of the anchoring, deployment and retrieval, and system operation methodologies. This project directly addresses those issues, resulting in increased performance and reliability.


Actions to be taken include:
i) Operational
Develop and monitor the following for the hydrokinetic power generation system

  • developing efficient and cost effective deployment and retrieval processes for tidal hydrokinetic system
  • monitoring and assessment of magnitude and potential impact of subsurface debris management of surface debris – both ebbing and flooding tides
  • anchoring the system in a bi-directional flow with up to 9 m water column depth changes
  • maintaining system operation (stable turbine alignment) in light to moderate wind and wave conditions
  • system protection during storms with high winds and up to 2.5m seas
  • effect of the tidal environment on the submerged portion of the power cable
  • effect of flex stressing on the barge structure
  • turbine performance with the velocity variability of the tidal action – particularly self starting impact of the system on water craft activity


ii) Environmental

Monitor interactions of the hydrokinetic power generation system with the following. Tools used include

  • high resolution sonar and Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler:
  • Fish populations – the estuary off Snag Point supports all five species of Pacific salmon,- other abundant species includes starry flounder, Dolly Varden, and sculpins
  • mammals – the primary the Beluga whale (Nushagak Bay has been identified as a calving area), but also spotted seals. 
  • Debris monitoring - monitor surface debris as well as use of sonar to monitor submerged debris
  • Water column velocity, flow direction, and column depth data, one on the platform and the other will be used to make transacts in search of other high current velocity sites.


iii) Economic

  • Further analysis of the hydrokinetic resource potential for the project site.
  • Metering of the outgoing power.

ADCP water column velocity and direction data has been collected for sicne 2009 more analyis of spefic sites are needed to map maximum region for velositied greater than 2.0m/s.

Who will take these actions?

Where will these actions be taken?

Nushagak Bay Alaska - a large estuary in Bristol Bay in southwestern Alaska

How much will emissions be reduced or sequestered vs. business as usual levels?

Emmistions will be limited to small boats servicing tidal barge as well as transporation of supplies to Dillingham

What are other key benefits?

What are the proposal’s costs?

Time line

In this three year project starting September 2014 and ending February 2016, the first year aims are to identify/acquire permits, defining operational issues, define estuarine environmental impacts, and develop monitoring methodologies. The summers of year two and three will involve operation of the hydrokinetic system, conducting its environmental impacts and monitoring its performance. The three year program will allow for hydrokinetic resource assessment so that modifications to either the system operation or monitoring can be made as necessary The Year two and three operating season is anticipated to be June 1 to Oct 1.   The final year will see Final Project administration and performance analysis/reports
YEAR ONE - 2014

  • Permits applications and site analysis (Sept-Dec 2014)
  • Turbine/barge/Power building system acquirement and design (Oct 2014-Mar 2015)



  • Acquire necessary permits (Apr 2015)
  • System design and transport Fairbanks-Dillingham (May 2015)
  • Interconnect electrical (Sept 2015) and System assembly (Aug-Sept 2015
  •  System assembly and deployment (June-2015
  • System operation (Jun-Oct 2015– summer months)
  • System retrieval (Oct 2015)
  • Project administration and performance analysis/reports Feb 2015
  • System review and modifications (Jan-May 2015)

YEAR Four (2016)

  • Final Project administration and performance analysis/reports Feb 2016

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