Student Spotlight: Rebekah Shirley
Student Spotlight Directory
Rebekah at Wigton Windfarm, Jamaica.
"The Energy Landscape of Island Regions"
Rebekah came to the Energy and Resources Group to learn at the most dynamic energy network in academia today. Hailing from the West Indies, Rebekah has a strong interest in island nations and the role that energy plays in their development. Within recent times, strides have been made on various islands through government policy and commercial enterprise to promote energy efficiency and to introduce indigenous energy resources into local energy resource mixes currently dominated by imported liquid fossil fuels. Rebekah hopes to contribute to these advancements by learning about the barriers and solutions related to the integration of renewable resources into isolated grid systems.
Before coming to ERG, Rebekah pursued an undergraduate degree in Environment at McGill University, Montreal, Canada. An interdisciplinary degree itself, this program laid a foundation in environmental ethics, while allowing her to foster an analytical skill set and nurture an appreciation for the sciences. After graduation Rebekah returned home to the islands of Trinidad and Tobago where for two years she worked at the Environmental Management Authority assessing and permitting energy related projects such as offshore drilling and oil refining. This environmental impact assessment work highlighted for her the multidimensional impacts of fossil fuel dependence, inciting an interest in alternative means of energy introduction.
Since coming to ERG Rebekah has been able to explore this field through working with the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory (RAEL). The United Stated Department of Energy (DOE) has recently become part of an international partnership, known as Energy Development in Island Nations (EDIN), aimed at helping to advance the deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies in island nations. EDIN partners are currently conducting an extensive energy resource scoping exercise within the United States Virgin Islands (USVI) as one of the initiative’s three pilot programs.
Recently introduced solar powered lights at a University car park, St. Croix, USVI.
RAEL, through a partnership with NREL and the University of the Virgin Islands, has been helpful thus far in leading a number of research projects to facilitate this effort by collecting data that paints a picture of the territory’s energy landscape. Rebekah’s work in particular focuses on building a Carbon Calculator for USVI Households as well as the development of a Green Jobs Estimator specific to the territory based on regional and international experience.
Understanding direct and indirect energy use in island regions becomes a difficult problem given peculiarities in shipping, manufacturing, agriculture and utility service provision. The model Rebekah has built uses life cycle assessment (LCA) to approximate emissions from the extraction, processing, transport, use and disposal phases of services consumed by households. The resulting data is useful for a number of different purposes. For instance, coupling energy use information with green job calculations approximates the number of jobs that could be created through various combinations of conservation and efficiency.
Furthermore, in order to best assess the feasibility of various energy mix scenarios for the USVI it is useful to understand the experience of neighboring and contextually similar countries where the integration of alternative energy resources into commercial electricity provision has begun. Rebekah has thus begun a study of policy and market mechanisms that have been effective in promoting renewable energy production in both the Caribbean and Pacific Island Region. She has found this study incredibly useful and hopes to further research in this area.
Rebekah is grateful to be a part of the ERG community where she has the opportunity to learn from both internationally renowned experts and talented students alike who successfully rise to the challenge of using innovative and cross disciplinary methods to tackle issues of global importance. She is constantly amazed by her fellow ERGies achievements, enjoys quietly gleaning from the thought processes of such outstanding minds and feels blessed knowing that everyday she gets to share good times with people who are changing the world.
Rebekah is supported by a Graduate Chancellor’s Fellowship and her work has been made possible because of a number of dependable people and programs. Rebekah would like to that her advisor Dr. Daniel Kammen, Christopher Jones and the RAEL team, Adam Warren and the passionate experts at NREL, the wonderful ERG staff and her inspiring ERG peers.
Check out some of Rebekah’s Carbon Calculator work: http://coolclimate.berkeley.edu/project/usvi_calc