Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis (Ph.D.)

Department or Program

Engineering Sciences

First Advisor

Mary Albert

Second Advisor

Christopher Polashenski

Third Advisor

Charles Sullivan


National governments continue to depend on fossil fuels for electricity and heat generation in Arctic communities. This dependence threatens the economic, environmental, and cultural sustainability of Arctic communities and subjects them to future volatility and uncertainty. In Greenland, the centralized government structure creates additional challenges for northern communities by limiting the inclusion of local knowledge and priorities in favor of national, standardized solutions. This research identifies pathways towards fossil fuel reduction in northern Greenlandic communities via 1.) analyzing the potential for renewable energy inclusion in grid-scale or residential energy generation and 2.) analysis of the potential for energy reduction in housing. Furthermore, this research provides insights into the policy tools that make energy generation and conservation strategies financially and technically accessible to residents of northern Greenland. A model of Qaanaaq’s energy grid is developed and determines that under various economic circumstances, hybrid energy systems, including solar PV, battery energy storage, and diesel, are cost-optimal and technically feasible for Qaanaaq, both from a utility and community perspective. Financial tools that aim to reduce upfront costs could significantly lower barriers to entry for both community-owned renewable energy and residential self-supply. Energy audits of a sample of homes in Qaanaaq reveal significant potential for energy efficiency improvements that can best be met via new, open-sourced designs in the Greenlandic standard housing program. Designs that have been co-created with community members and a local carpenter are presented, ensuring that the new designs overcome specific housing barriers and meet lifestyle, economic, and practical considerations. Open-sourced designs lower the cost of entry into the program and make energy-efficient designs more broadly accessible to those seeking new housing. This research provides pathways toward an affordable future in northern Greenlandic communities via solutions for lowering energy generation costs and energy burdens and increasing access to energy-efficient, affordable housing.