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PhD Thesis Proposal: Alyssa Pantaleo



10:00am - 11:30am ET

Rm 201, MacLean ESC

"Energy and Empowerment in the Greenlandic High Arctic"


Many remote subsistence communities in the high Arctic rely on diesel or other fossil fuels for their electricity and heat generation, yet the cost of imported fuels and high heating demands creates excessive energy burdens on household budgets. Additionally, many Arctic governments (Greenland, Nunuvut, Russia, Alaska) provide high subsidies for energy and/or fuel costs Alaska Energy Authority; Touchette, Yanick et al. [2017]; Gritsenko and Salonen [2021]. In Greenland, these subsidies are vital to the many coastal subsistence communities that lack potential for cost-reducing hydropower generation. In Greenland, the government has cut support to several former subsistence communities, despite a desire of people to stay there (Moriosoq, Etah Ehrlich, Gretel [2003]). Several more settlements were never rebuilt after natural disasters and residents were relocated (Illorsuit, Nuugaatsiaq Naatsorsueqqissaartarfik). In order to provide a pathway for subsistence communities in northwest Greenland to continue their right to self-determination, this proposal examines the feasibility of conserving energy through design and evaluation of energy-efficient, affordable housing specific to hunter-fisher needs, reducing cost of energy generation via renewable energy hybridization in the current diesel-only grids, and identifying solutions for community energy supply with reduced governmental support.

This proposal will address the following research questions:

  1. What are the most cost-effective ways to reduce household energy burdens and make homes more suited to the needs to the residents- via scalable renovations or entirely new constructions?
  2. How can future housing in Greenlandic subsistence communities better meet the needs, lifestyles, and incomes of residents?
  3. What is the potential for cost reduction in the energy systems of diesel-only subsistence communities via renewable energy?
  4. What potential solutions exist that could enable a subsistence community to continue with reduced governmental support?


  • Professor Mary Albert (Chair)
  • Professor Charles Sullivan
  • Professor Chris Polashenski
  • Troy McBride, PhD (External)


For more information, contact Theresa Fuller at