Nkiruka Avila

Nkiruka (Nikky) Avila

PhD Student, Energy and Resources Group, UC Berkeley

Nkiruka (Nikky) Avila is a PhD Student in the Energy and Resources Group at UC Berkeley. Her research focuses on renewable energy integration, electricity access and sustainable energy development.

Nikky uses interdisciplinary research methods to evaluate centralized and distributed energy systems and to understand the role energy sovereignty plays in regional energy transitions. “I want to expand the energy access discourse to include bottom-up research approaches that glean strategies and solutions from the perspectives of people living in affected regions.”

She returned to academia because “issues of inequality kept me up at night.” Her personal experience with energy access led her to her current field. “I have experienced both the scarcity and the abundance of energy; weeks without grid electricity supply in Nigeria, and years without electricity interruptions in the United States,” she says.

Nikky hopes to inform policymakers and investors on energy decisions. “Despite Nigeria’s abundant energy wealth, the people are left in darkness due to grid and fuel infrastructure failures,” she says. “Willingness and ability to pay for electricity do not overcome transformer failures, gas pipeline vandalism and limited generation capacity. Proper governance and policies are crucial to developing and managing the appropriate energy infrastructure that will ensure electricity access to all.”