Isa Ferrall is a MS/Ph.D. student in the Energy and Resources Group and Renewable and Appropriate Energy Lab at the University of California, Berkeley. She is interested in the impact of renewable energy on rural electrification, global development, and the domestic energy sector. Previously, Isa gained experience on both the technical and applied sides of renewable energy. She researched innovative energy materials at Duke University as a National Academy of Engineering Grand Challenge Scholar and at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory as a Department of Energy Intern. She also has analyzed system data for Off-Grid Electric, a solar home system company operating in east Africa. Isa graduated Magna Cum Laude from Duke University in 2015 with distinction in Mechanical Engineering and a Certificate in Energy and the Environment.
Rapid economic growth sustained in Southeast Asia throughout the new millennium has led to a surge in large-scale infrastructure projects to facilitate industrial productivity and consumption. The state of Sarawak, located along the northern coast of the island of Borneo, is the poorest and most rural state in Malaysia but has long been a focal point for the development of large-scale hydroelectric power. At least six dams are scheduled to be completed in Sarawak by 2020 as part of a high hydro-potential corridor in central Sarawak. These forests have undisputed global and local significance ecologically, biologically and culturally.
In collaboration with local grass-roots renewable project developers and river protection groups we have explored the potential for clean energy alternatives in the state through an integration of modeling tools: (a) modeling long-term utility scale electricity generation alternatives in East Malaysia to determine trade-offs across different technologies; (b) exploring the potential for rural communities in dam-affected areas to satisfy energy access needs using local resources; © demonstrating a rapid assessment method for estimating the impact of mega-projects on biodiversity. Each of these studies provides information useful to the discussion of alternatives and furthers the analysis of green economy costs and benefits. Our published findings have influenced policy discussions at the Ministerial level and a moratorium against the Baram Dam was announced in 2015.
Media coverage of our research and the Baram Dam Moratorium:
The Borneo Project, March 21, 2016 — Fantastic new video on “Development without destruction” in Sarawak.
Mongabay, October 20, 2015 — Indigenous anti-dam activists converge in Sarawak from around the globe
Sarawak Report, September 25, 2015 — BMF Press Statement: Victory, Moratorium on the Baram Dam in Malaysia
The Borneo Post, September 27, 2015 — Small is Beautiful: The People Matter
Media coverage of our June 28, 2015 press conference in Kuching, Sarawak:
The Borneo Post, August 11, 2015 - Adenan wants SEB to light up the rural areas
The Malaysian Insider, July 31, 2015 - Adenan puts Baram dam on hold, agrees to listen to natives’ grouses
Radio Free Sarawak, July 15, 2015 - “Sjotveit should be out”, say Sarawakians
The Malaysian Insider, July 14, 2015 - Stop Baleh dam tender until environmental study scrutinised, says Sarawak PKR
Mongabay.com, July 8, 2015 - Sarawak can meet energy needs without mega-dams: report
BFM 89.9 — The Business Station (www.bfm.my), Radio and online interview, July 3, 2015, Clean energy options in East Malaysia
The Daily Express — East Malaysia, June 30, 2015 - Sarawak Mega Dam Project Study
The Borneo Post, June 29, 2015 - Borneo May See the End of Mega-Dams
The Malaysian Insider, June 29, 2015 - Activists say Adenan rethinking mega dams policy in Sarawak
Free Malaysia Today, June 29, 2015 - Adenan May Drop Mega Dam Projects
The Maylay Mail, June 29, 2015 - CM pulls the brakes on Baram dam until he goes through detailed studies, group claims
International Rivers (2014). Better Solutions Than Megadams for Powering Sarawak, Study Finds. World Rivers Review Vol 29. No 2. Page 5.
Earlier media coverage of this work on energy alternatives to coal and mega-hydropower projects includes this report in TIME Magazine:
February 22, 2011 — Borneo says no to dirty energy
Recent discussions of the relationship between mega-dams and earthquakes has also been receiving local coverage in Borneo: http://www.theborneopost.com/2015/06/28/dams-fault-lines-and-quakes/
My research is driven by an interest in the broad-based environmental and social impacts of energy technologies and policies. This work seeks to make explicit the trade-offs that are often present between energy security, climate, and other important social and environmental objectives. In particular, I have worked on issues at the water/energy nexus, evaluating the “water footprints” of a range of energy technologies. Water and energy are inextricably linked, with electricity generation second only to agriculture in total global water withdrawals. This connection is particularly acute for bioenergy, as it is by far the most water-intensive of all energy types. My research has employed life cycle assessment (LCA), agro-climatic modeling, and GIS tools to show that biofuels routinely require several orders of magnitude more water than petroleum fuels while often providing only modest climate benefit.
I approach my research with an eye toward implementation. This has led me to work with California regulatory agencies on fuel policy formulation and to serve as vice-chair of the Geneva-based Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels. Prior to coming to HSU, I worked in Rome for the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. While there, I provided support to the governments of Indonesia and Colombia in evaluating the environmental and social impacts of their biofuel industries, and in formulating policies to address those impacts.
Dr. Jacobson is the SERC Director and an associate professor of Environmental Resources Engineering at Humboldt State University. He is also the coordinator of HSU’s master’s program in Energy Technology and Policy. Dr. Jacboson has a Ph.D. from the Energy and Resources Group at the University of California, Berkeley and an M.S. in Environmental Systems (engineering option) from Humboldt State. His areas of research interest include renewable energy technology, energy and climate change mitigation policy, and energy access for low income people in developing countries. His work is interdisciplinary, combining renewable energy engineering, energy policy, and a social geography based approach to international development studies. Dr. Jacobson has extensive international work experience in Africa, South Asia, and Latin America, including recent work focused on the development of an international program to ensure the quality of affordable LED-based off-grid lighting systems appropriate for use by low income people in developing countries.
Chris Greacen has worked on policy and hands-on implementation of renewable energy from village to government levels. As co-director of the non-profit organization Palang Thai he helped draft Thailand’s Very Small Power Producer (VSPP) policies, which account for over 1200 MW of renewable energy on-line and additional 3700 MW with signed PPAs as of March 2012. He conducted dozens of studies on renewable energy and power sector planning and governance in Thailand, including a government-commissioned study that helped shape Thailand’s design of its feed-in tariff program.
As a World Bank consultant he has worked since 2008 with the Tanzanian Energy Water Utilities Regulatory Authority (EWURA) to draft guidelines and rules for Tanzania’s Small Power Producer (SPP) program, which streamlines deployment of renewable energy mini-grids for rural electrification and grid-connected renewable energy to augment Tanzania’s national grid.
With the Border Green Energy Team (BGET) he has led installation of 13 pico-hydropower projects with remote communities in the Thai-Burma border area, as well as leading the construction of dozens of solar electric systems for remote medical clinics in eastern Burma. His PhD dissertation from the Energy and Resources Group (ERG) at the University of California at Berkeley focused on micro-hydroelectricity in rural Thailand. He also has a BA in Physics from Reed College with a thesis on solar photovoltaic semiconductor physics. He has worked on renewable energy projects in Nepal, India, Burma, Cambodia, China, Guatemala, Micronesia, North Korea, Tibet, Vanuatu, Vietnam, and on Native American reservations.
Gathu Kirubi, brings strong analytical skills and demonstrated management experience cutting across renewable energy, rural development and micro-finance. Aside from holding a PhD in Energy & Rural Development from the University of California Berkeley, a premier institution in the field, Kirubi brings to Solar Transitions over 10 years experience in innovation and leadership in designing and managing rural energy projects in East Africa. In 2001, Kirubi won the prestigious Ashden Award in recognition of “leadership and innovation in pioneering the start-up of a revolving fund credit scheme that supports schools and micro-enterprises with energy efficient wood stoves in Kenya.
In addition to consulting on energy and microfinance with a number of organizations including UNDP, Arc Finance, E+Co, and Faulu-Kenya, Kirubi is also a Lecturer at the Environmental Sciences Department, Kenyatta University, Nairobi,where he teaches courses on energy, technology, and sustainable development. His main interests in the project are the linkages between rural access to electricity and income generating activities, including small and medium size enterprises.
Biomass fuels (wood, charcoal, dung, and agricultural residues) are vital to basic welfare and economic activity in developing nations, especially in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), where they meet more than 90% of household energy needs in many nations. Combustion of biofuels emit pollutants that currently cause over 1.6 million annual deaths globally (400,000 in SSA. Because most of these deaths are among children and women, biomass use is directly or indirectly related to multiple Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), including environmental sustainability, reducing child mortality, and gender equity.
Taking indoor air pollution measurements in rural Kenya
Making charcoal, Kenya
Women gathering firewood, Zombe, Kenya
Distributed energy and information (satellite TV) in Prizren, Kosovo
Homes built in Juba, South Sudan showing the lack of infrastructure associated with these new units.
Making charcoal and mud fuel blocks in Kibera, Kenya
Madison K. Hoffacker is a full-time Sustainable Energy Research Specialist jointly with the Energy and Resources Group at UC Berkeley and the Center for Conservation Biology at UC Riverside. Madison graduated from Chapman University with a degree in Environmental Science and Policy, and previously worked for the Department of Global Ecology at the Carnegie Institution for Science (Stanford, California).
Hernandez RR, Hoffacker MK, Field CB (2015) Efficient use of land to meet sustainable energy needs. Nature Climate Change, doi:10.1038/NCLIMATE2556 [PDF] Featured in: The Washington Post, ECNmag.com, Grist.org, ComputerWorld.com, and GreenTechMedia.com
Hernandez RR, Hoffacker MK, Field CB (2014) The Land-Use Efficiency of Big Solar. Environmental Science and Technology, doi: 10.1021/es4043726. [PDF]
Funk JL, Hoffacker MK, and Matzek V (2014) Summer irrigation, grazing and seed addition differentially influence community composition in an invaded serpentine grassland. [PDF]