Sergio Castellanos is a Berkeley Energy & Climate Institute – Tecnológico de Monterrey (BECI–ITESM) Energy Fellow working at the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Lab with Prof. Dan Kammen. His research focuses on expanding an optimization model –SWITCH– to Mexico to determine the optimal investments in new generation and transmission assets. Through his research, he also analyzes the manufacturing capacity of photovoltaic solar technologies in Mexico. Previously, in his Ph.D. studies (Mechanical Engineering ’15, MIT) he characterized the electrical impact of structural defects in silicon-based solar cells. He enjoys reading, exploring new hobbies, and learning more about the intersection of technology, business, and policy in renewable energy.
Recent forecasts suggest that African countries must triple their current electricity generation by 2030. Our multicriteria assessment of wind and solar potential for large regions of Africa shows how economically competitive and low-environmental–impact renewable resources can significantly contribute to meeting this demand. We created the Multicriteria Analysis for Planning Renewable Energy (MapRE) framework to map and characterize solar and wind energy zones in 21 countries in the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP) and the Eastern Africa Power Pool (EAPP) and find that potential is several times greater than demand in many countries. Significant fractions of demand can be quickly served with “no-regrets” options—or zones that are low-cost, low-environmental impact, and highly accessible. Because no-regrets options are spatially heterogeneous, international interconnections are necessary to help achieve low-carbon development for the region as a whole, and interconnections that support the best renewable options may differ from those planned for hydropower expansion. Additionally, interconnections and selecting wind sites to match demand reduce the need for SAPP-wide conventional generation capacity by 9.5% in a high-wind scenario, resulting in a 6–20% cost savings, depending on the avoided conventional technology. Strategic selection of low-impact and accessible zones is more cost effective with interconnections compared with solutions without interconnections. Overall results are robust to multiple load growth scenarios. Together, results show that multicriteria site selection and deliberate planning of interconnections may significantly increase the economic and environmental competitiveness of renewable alternatives relative to conventional generation.
Patricia graduated as an industrial and electrical engineer in 2012 from Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (PUC). During her undergraduate studies she worked as a Linear Algebra teaching assistant for three years, performed research in Dr. Daniel Kammen’s Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory (RAEL) at UC Berkeley working on the SWITCH model for the US. She also worked (funded by CONICYT) on solar energy research at the University of Arizona (undergrad thesis). Once she graduated she worked as a Linear Algebra lecturer at PUC. Later on, for over a year and a half she worked as a research assistant at UC Berkeley and at the Natural Resources Defense Council (performing SWITCH-Chile research). Her topics of interest are how to highly integrate renewable energy in the grid, long-term power system planning, stochastic load dispatch models, energy policy, and energy economics.
Rebekah Shirley is ERG alumni and former Post-Doctoral Researcher at RAEL. She completed her doctoral studies in the Energy and Resources Group in 2015. She also previously obtained a MSc. Energy and Resources (2011) and a MSc. Civil Engineering at UC Berkeley (2011). Her doctoral research focused on decentralized renewable energy technologies and designing integrated modeling frameworks to support energy planning in emerging economies, with a focus on Southeast Asia and island regions and now her scope has extended to sub-Saharan Africa, where she lives.
As a researcher at RAEL Rebekah has conducted feasibility studies for energy alternatives in Borneo and Laos, built the first carbon emissions and green jobs impact calculators in the Caribbean, developed solutions to reduce the carbon and water footprints of the hotel sector in India, designed carbon neutral emergency housing for hurricane preparedness and climate resilience in French Polynesia, explored the agriculture-water intersection with Fulbright Nexus Scholars in Nicaragua, and modeled least-cost power systems for partners across Latin America, Southeast Asia and the Pacific. She has worked with institutions like the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and USAID. Rebekah is a University of California Chancellor’s Fellow and at UC Berkeley has won grants from organizations such as the DOE and the Rainforest Foundation that support her work.
Rebekah is now the Chief Research Officer at Power For All, a global education and advocacy initiative founded by energy access practitioners to advance renewable solutions for universal energy access, with focused campaigns in sub-Saharan Africa. For her work in building the continent’s first decentralized energy research engine Rebekah was named Africa’s Outstanding Young Leader in Energy 2018. Rebekah now lives and works in Nairobi, Kenya.
Noah Kittner is a PhD student in the Energy and Resources Group at UC Berkeley and researcher in the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory. After graduating with a BS in Environmental Science from UNC-Chapel Hill (highest honors), Noah was a Fulbright Fellow at the Joint Graduate School for Energy and Environment in Bangkok, Thailand researching technical and policy aspects of solar electricity and sustainability assessment. Recently, he co-authored a Thai Solar PV Roadmap with colleagues at Chulalongkorn University.
He has worked on renewable energy issues in a variety of contexts, including measuring land use change and biomass fuel uses in western Uganda, installing solar panels in Mexico, and electricity grid modeling in Kosovo. He is supported through the Berkeley Center for Green Chemistry as a SAGE-IGERT fellow, National Science Foundation as a Graduate Research Fellow, USAID, and has won an award from the National Go Solar Foundation for his work on solar photovoltaics.