student : Britt ShawMS

Britt is a second-year Master’s student in the Energy and Resources Group. Her interests lie in clean power sector development in emerging markets, particularly in Sub Saharan Africa and creative financing mechanisms for renewable energy uptake. Prior to her graduate studies, Britt supported USAID Power Africa projects focusing on geothermal energy development in Kenya, Tanzania, and Ethiopia while working at the U.S. Energy Association. Britt holds a B.S. in Science Technology and International Affairs from Georgetown University. Outside of her academic pursuits, Britt enjoys skiing, hiking, running, and exploring the great outdoors in the West.

 

SPOTLIGHT

What are you doing at ERG?
At ERG, I am exploring the barriers to renewable projects that are stalled or abandoned in emerging markets and potential solutions. By striving to answer that question, I hope to help move electricity sector development forward — especially in East Africa. My graduate research interests in renewable energy project development came directly out of my past work experience and my undergraduate studies in Science, Technology and International Affairs. Before coming to ERG, I worked on geothermal energy technical assistance and training programs in East Africa under Power Africa for USAID. That experience opened my eyes to a suite of complex and intriguing problems related to accessing finance for new utility scale renewable energy projects in the region.

 


Wind turbine field visit with East African power sector delegates
at Imperial Valley, California

 

Why did you choose ERG?
ERG was unique among my options, because it allows so much freedom for curriculum choices and research topics. I needed a program where I could take technical, but also business and finance-related coursework, that will help me to gain a deeper understanding of the project finance space for renewable projects.

Honestly, I just had a gut feeling when I visited ERG that this was the right place for me. A lot of that had to do with meeting ERG students and finding out how collaborative this environment is. I knew that, as someone relatively new to practicing academic research, I would need some help to get through these two years. My peers have been absolutely critical as guides for my education here, and hopefully, I’ve been able to offer them useful support, too!

 


Speaking at the Commonwealth Club

 

How has it been working with your ERG advisor?
Dan Kammen is a very encouraging advisor and opens doors to a lot of research and speaking opportunities for his students. For someone as accomplished and busy as Dan, it always surprises me how approachable and understanding he is as an advisor. In my experience, setbacks are part of the nature of research, and he’s been great at helping to move projects forward.

What does the future look like for you?
I have started to focus more on private sector investments in solar, wind, hydro and geothermal projects. I am taking an interdisciplinary mix of courses at ERG, Haas School of Business, Berkeley Law, and other departments on campus to build on my skills for energy project development and management in the private sector.

 

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