FoNS at COP26: Paloma Ortega Arriaga

Photo of Paloma Ortega ArriagaPaloma Ortega Arriaga is a PhD student at the Grantham Institute, and also affiliated to the Department of Physics. She’s also part of the Imperial delegation heading to COP26.

My research is on energy access focusing on off grid renewable systems, specifically solar energy. My research project is mostly related to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7, which is to provide universal access to affordable, reliable and clean energy by 2030. However, there are currently millions of people who don’t have access to energy, mostly in rural areas of sub Saharan Africa and Asia. I investigate the techno-economic feasibility of off grid systems to provide them access using renewable sources instead of using, for example, diesel generators that some of these communities often rely on, which are generally more expensive and polluting. I also consider the economic and environmental implications of different electrification options.

The COP26 goals most related to my research are collaboration and finance, because to provide energy access many different entities are involved – donors, private investors, developers, governments and local communities – and these all feed into and depend on the policy and the main political agenda in that country.

There are also lots of issues around climate justice – the greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity generated in Africa is very small compared to other countries, for example, and yet there are richer countries who’ve built their economies and made wealth from fossil fuels telling developing countries that they shouldn’t invest in these. There are many different things to consider in the transition to clean energy.

Find out more about the other FoNS students heading to COP26

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