Energy Transitions in Coastal Communities

Research to support coastal communities in charting resilient, independent energy futures

Homes along the coast of Sitka, Alaska.

Sitka, Alaska.

(Photo by Daniel Gaebele | Sandia National Laboratories)

Island and remote coastal communities face an uncertain energy future. These communities build, operate, and maintain energy infrastructure in extremely challenging environments and pay the highest prices for electricity and fuels. Climate change increasingly poses threats to these communities and their energy security through rising sea levels, threats to environmental resources, and more frequent and extreme storms. Incorporating renewable energy sources—such as solar, wind, marine energy, and hydropower—could address many of the challenges faced by island and remote coastal communities, but these communities often have limited resources and capacity to invest in complex energy and coastal resilience issues.

To support clean energy transitions in coastal locations, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) researchers are tackling the challenge from multiple directions: providing direct technical assistance to communities and developing theories and tools to support successful community-led energy transitions. PNNL is partnering with the Department of Energy’s Energy Transitions Initiative Partnership Project (ETIPP) to provide technical assistance to communities planning and implementing clean energy transitions and with the Water Power Technologies Office to explore opportunities for marine energy in communities. PNNL is also taking the information learned from communities undergoing energy transitions to develop a synthetic understanding of the process—creating frameworks and tools that will support future energy transitions in other communities.