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Rebekah Shirley

Rebekah Shirley

Chief Research Officer, Power for All
Kenya

Dr. Rebekah Shirley is the Chief Research Officer at Power for All. Launched in 2014, Power for All works in some of the least electrified countries in Africa and recognized that the lack of awareness on advances and impacts of renewable energy technology was a major impediment to strategic energy decision making. Business-as-usual approaches were still entrenched due to lack of good data. Rebekah came to the campaign in late 2015 to address this problem directly. Over the past three years she has built the Platform for Energy Access Knowledge (PEAK) - a novel energy research platform forged through industry-academic partnership with a mission to make data accessible, understandable and useable by Africa's critical energy influencers. For this work Rebekah was named Africa's Outstanding Young Leader in Energy 2018 and an Africa Power and Energy Elite Personality in 2019. 

Rebekah holds a PhD in Energy Resources from the University of California, Berkeley, one of the world's leading academic institutions in science and technology, where she also completed an MSc in Civil Engineering. Her expertise is in power system simulation and optimization-building integrated models for electricity planning, particularly in data constrained environments. Her PhD research focused on identifying high-investment renewable energy opportunities for Borneo, Southeast Asia. Through the course of her research, Rebekah worked with local community groups to translate her findings on renewables potential off the pages of academic journals, into videos and local newspaper articles, and engaged her audiences through roadshows across the country. In 2015, the government reversed plans to build a series of controversial large dams, in favor of distributed solar and small-hydro generation, sending shock waves through the region, proving the impact of accessible knowledge. 

Dr. Shirley is now based in Nairobi, Kenya, where she continues to grow her research team. Every semester Rebekah mentors a team of university students in producing high-quality, data-driven, 'ready to-share' content on topics ranging from the impact of rural energy access on health care to financial investment opportunities in the sector. Over the years PEAK has grown a reputation for its sharp, market-relevant insights including widely circulated position papers used for engaging local government agencies and driving commitments. A Visiting Research Fellow at Kenya's renowned Strathmore University, Rebekah publishes frequently and is currently leading research projects throughout the region, including ground-breaking research on electric vehicle impacts to grid, and how the "utility of the future” will evolve in Africa. Rebekah also spear-headed the development of PEAK'S interactive data aggregation and visualization portal, a first-of-its-kind technology for Africa, that helps users synthesize meaningful insight about electricity access from unwieldy volumes of data. 

Rebekah has eleven years of experience in energy analytics and research management. She has worked, published on and lived in South and Southeast Asia, sub Saharan Africa and Latin America. She is from the Caribbean and thus also has a keen interest in small island developing states. Rebekah is a University of California Chancellor's Fellow and has won grants from institutions such as the Department of Energy, the Mott Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Schneider Electric Foundation and the Rainforest Foundation that have supported her and her team's work.
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