Perspectives on Business and Economics, Vol. 40

13 Although this is a prime location, tidal systems already are used in small communities near waters that are not connected to the main grid, and these areas show promise as well. Overall, Alaska’s coast is positioned to utilize tidal energy, but certain areas like Cook Inlet show greater potential (National Renewable Energy Laboratory, 2021). Solar Power in Alaska Solar power is generated using the electromagnetic radiation of the sun’s rays and can be produced using photovoltaic (PV) cells or by concentrating solar-thermal power technology. PV solar panels absorb radiation emitted by the sun, which creates moving electrical charges that can be converted into electricity. Concentrating solar-thermal power systems, which are less common, use mirrors to reflect and amplify sunlight onto thermal receivers that then produce heat, which then can be converted into electricity. Although these technologies are well known and used, electricity production from solar in Alaska is limited by the season of the year, because hours of daylight vary from between 0 and 6 hours in the winter to between 19 and 24 hours in the summer. These long summer daylight hours present immense opportunity for energy production. There are a variety of other factors that contribute to the optimality of solar in Alaska; one is the state’s below-average temperatures that boost efficiency in PV solar systems. Additionally, solar radiation absorbed by panels is magnified when reflected off snow. Factors like these warrant a closer, case-by-case look at the feasibility of solar energy across Alaska. For instance, although peak electrical demand is experienced during winter, when energy production is at its lowest, many remote communities could still benefit from solar in the summer, when they otherwise would be using exclusively diesel fuel systems. Some communities also experience higher electrical demand in the summer because of fish processing activities. Looking at Alaska as a whole, the arctic and interior regions have promising levels of solar radiation from March to August, with insignificant levels during the rest of the year. Conversely, the southeast and southwest regions see solar levels that change more gradually throughout the year but still follow the same seasonal pattern and are worth considering for solar energy production (Schwabe, 2016). Addressing Alaska-specific Challenges What are the challenges that confront development of renewable energy projects in Alaska? Most of the state is inaccessible by road or rail; the state experiences natural hazards and harsh weather; a large portion of the land in the state is government owned; and the economy is heavily reliant on the oil industry. These unique challenges can be categorized as remoteness, infrastructure challenges, land ownership, and economic barriers, including minimal electrical demand. This section examines land ownership and remoteness in detail and briefly addresses the others. Renewable projects require assessment of economic barriers, infrastructure challenges relating to climate, and the minimal electrical demand of Alaska. Much of Alaska’s economy relies on oil revenues, which not only have eliminated taxation by the state on citizens but also have funded government spending and the Permanent Fund dividend. Hence, to develop renewable energy, the support of oil companies, both financially and otherwise, may be necessary. Economic barriers also may come in the form of funding challenges. Furthermore, Alaska’s climate presents a host of challenges. As climate warming increases, so does melting of the permafrost, which structurally supports buildings, roads, and bridges. Building new infrastructure atop melting permafrost requires special consideration for maintaining structural integrity. Additionally, Alaska receives harsh weather, with temperatures that range from 90ºF to below −40ºF, which is a factor to consider when building new infrastructure. Alaska’s low electrical demand is also significant, indicating a need for developers to create a use for the energy they produce. Important as these factors are, land ownership and remoteness are arguably two of the most significant challenges for Alaska. Land Ownership and Protection One of the primary land-use challenges in Alaska is a result of the state’s unique and intricate land ownership system. Key legislation like the Alaska Statehood Act (1958), Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (1971), and