NEWS Berkeley Science Review profile

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Dr. Daniel Kam­men has had a long and illus­tri­ous career defined by his com­mit­ment to expand­ing clean energy world­wide. He orig­i­nally became inter­ested in clean energy as a post­doc work­ing on wind and solar projects in Nicaragua and El Sal­vador in the mid-​​1980s. His research led to a fac­ulty posi­tion at Prince­ton until 1999, when he joined UC Berke­ley. Here, he founded and leads the Renew­able and Appro­pri­ate Energy Lab­o­ra­tory (RAEL), whose work includes iden­ti­fy­ing novel mate­ri­als for solar pan­els and bat­ter­ies, build­ing com­pu­ta­tional mod­els of regional energy sys­tems to iden­tify oppor­tu­ni­ties for renew­able energy, and imple­ment­ing energy policy.

Although RAEL’s research has resulted in hun­dreds of aca­d­e­mic papers, Kam­men cares deeply about hav­ing a real-​​world impact. He is par­tic­u­larly proud of RAEL’s projects in Africa, as they not only address cli­mate change but also increase peo­ples’ access to energy. One project installs mini solar grids in war-​​torn areas like South Sudan and the Demo­c­ra­tic Repub­lic of Congo. These instal­la­tions pro­vide renew­able energy to power crit­i­cal infra­struc­ture, like health clin­ics and women’s cen­ters. What started out as an aca­d­e­mic exer­cise in his lab is now a way for com­pa­nies to buy Peace Renew­able Energy Cred­its, an inter­na­tion­ally traded vir­tual com­mod­ity that pro­vides a rev­enue stream for devel­op­ers of renew­able energy projects and offers com­pa­nies a way to finance impact­ful projects in these coun­tries. Out­side of Africa, RAEL’s other projects include elec­tri­fy­ing 30 thou­sand taxis in China, defeat­ing a large coal project in Malaysian Bor­neo, and using Google data from 60 mil­lion rooftops to show the mas­sive amount of social inequal­ity in solar panel usage.

When Kam­men isn’t help­ing com­mu­ni­ties around the world tran­si­tion to clean energy, he’s star­ing out into space. He says, “I have some pretty cool tele­scopes. I do a lot of deep space pho­tog­ra­phy, look­ing at exo­plan­ets and plan­ets around other stars.” Clearly Kam­men cares about plan­ets, whether it’s dis­cov­er­ing new ones or sav­ing ours.


For the orig­i­nal: click here.



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