Solar Ocean Heat Powers District Heating In Alaska
It has long been known that the world’s oceans experience massive solar heat gain as the large gyres circulate these currents along the equator. This heat is then transported poleward to northern climates, passing along populated coastal areas that are currently reliant on fossil fuels for heating. Inspired by success in coastal Norway and Canada that began in the 1980’s, large facilities located along ice free bays in the Alaskan cities of Seward and Juneau have implemented projects to harness this solar heat since 2008. A key project at the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward has demonstrated the ability for ocean source heat pumps to provide heating of sidewalks, domestic water, and interior spaces for half the cost of conventional oil fired boilers, and with significant reduction in carbon emissions. Similar design concepts are now being applied toward district heating of City buildings in Seward. The success of these projects suggests wider application along both the west and east coast of the USA.