Dr. Rebekah Shirley is the Chief of Research at Power for All, a coalition of more than 300 renewable energy practitioners working towards universal electricity access.
Power for All works in some of the least electrified countries in sub-Saharan Africa where business-as-usual approaches to electrification are often entrenched due in part to lack of good data. Over the past five years Rebekah has built the Platform for Energy Access Knowledge (PEAK), a novel energy research engine forged through industry-academic partnership with a mission to make data accessible, understandable and usable by the general public and policy influencers alike, across the continent. Her team has grown a reputation for its sharp, timely, digestible insights, thought leadership and collaborative approach to research.
For her work bringing local research insights directly to the public dialogue on energy access, Rebekah was named Africa Utility Week’s 2018 Outstanding Young Leader in Energy and an ESI Africa 2019 Power and Energy Elite Industry Leader.
Rebekah has thirteen years of experience in energy analytics and interdisciplinary research management. She holds a PhD in Energy Resources, an MSc in Energy Resources, and an MSc in Civil Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley. Her expertise is in power system simulation and optimization—building models for integrated electricity planning, particularly in data constrained environments. She is keenly interested in the applications of small-scale energy technologies.
Her PhD research focused on identifying high-investment renewable energy opportunities for Borneo, Southeast Asia, through a combination of optimization and ecological modeling tools. Her PEAK research team now tests innovative solutions for centralized and distributed grid technology integration in East Africa. Rebekah was a University of California Chancellor’s Fellow and now holds a Visiting Research Fellowship at Strathmore University.
Previously, Rebekah obtained a first class honors Bachelor of Arts and Science in Environment from McGill University, after which she worked with the Environmental Management Authority in her native Trinidad, launching her career in renewable energy technology. A proud Caribbean-American, Rebekah has also lived, worked and published in Southeast Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. This international exposure brings a uniquely deep cultural perspective to her work. Rebekah is a strong proponent of south-south collaboration and local community engagement.
Rebekah lives with her husband Brian in Nairobi, Kenya, where they enjoy music, cooking, outdoor adventure, and travel together.