ERG Colloquium: Nkiruka Avila

Colloquium | February 13 | 4-5:30 p.m. | 126 Barrows Hall

 Nkiruka Avila, Pacific Gas and Electric Co.

 Energy and Resources Group

Title: Socio-Technical Innovation for a Low Carbon Energy Future
The most daunting challenges facing energy planners today are the decarbonization of energy systems to mitigate climate change, and the provision of reliable, affordable and clean electricity to over one billion people without access. These challenges will require not only an extensive redesign of the existing electricity infrastructure, but also a disruption of conventional planning approaches and the vested political, economic and social values it is enmeshed in. My research develops a set of analytical tools and conceptual frameworks for exploring this paradigm shift. In this talk, I will present an overview of the electricity gap in Sub-Saharan Africa, with a focus on generation capacity expansion pathways in Nigeria. I will then outline the development process of an open-access power systems optimization tool that I designed for low data contexts. Finally, I will present a multi-dimensional framework for socio-energy concepts that aims to emphasize critical planning considerations such as – “Energy for whom, for what, and at whose costs?” I will also introduce an additional consideration – “Energy by whom?” – as an essential question for designing a low carbon energy future.

Short Bio
Nkiruka draws from engineering and urban planning disciplines to explore how the renewable energy transition could lead to more equitable socio-technical systems. She is currently working on microgrids for resiliency at Pacific Gas and Electric Company. She earned her Ph.D. at the Energy and Resources Group at the University of California, Berkeley in 2018. She also holds a master’s degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering from UC Berkeley, and a bachelor’s degree with summa cum laude honors in Petroleum Engineering from the University of Oklahoma. She is a National Science Foundation Fellow and an Arthur Rosenfeld Fellow., 510-642-1640