New Energy Series

About the Series

New Energy: Conversations with Early-Career Energy Researchers is an online series featuring graduate, post-doctoral, and other early-career researchers sharing their discoveries and perspectives on energy-related topics. From policy to analysis to emerging technology, this bi-weekly series will give anyone interested in energy the opportunity to learn from the rising stars in the field. 

All events in this series take place via Zoom.

Fall 2022 Talks

Wednesday, October 12 | 12 - 1 p.m. ET
"Optimizing Collaborative Energy Storage Systems for an Equitable and Sustainable Energy Transition"
Ogechi Vivian Nwadiaru, PhD Candidate/NRT ELEVATE Fellow, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Moderated by Sarah Kelly, Irving Institute Research Associate and Lecturer, Dept. of Geography



Vivian Nwadiaru
Ogechi Vivian Nwadiaru

To support the delivery of an equitable and just transition, it is imperative to study models of ownership that can sustainably promote adoption. The aim of the study is to assess the benefits of co-operatively owned and operated storage systems. The underlying hypothesis is that there is a monetary and non-monetary value to residential storage. The hypothesis is built on the flexibility offered by storage as a demand response asset, which can be used by residents in price-based demand response programs and equally provides consumers with increased autonomy and reduced cost.  

Vivian Ogechi Nwadiaru received her bachelor's in Metallurgical and Materials Engineering and an MS in Energy Engineering. Before joining UMass Amherst as a Ph.D. student, she completed an International Climate Protection Research Fellowship funded by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation at the Technical University of Berlin and the University of Oxford, investigating Nigeria's energy transition and proliferation of fossil backup generators. Her research with ELEVATE explores equitable demand response strategies, such as pricing schemes for deploying solar and storage technologies to reduce cost and improve reliability in low-income communities.     

Wednesday, October 26 | 12- 1 p.m. ET
"The Cultures of Energy Efficiency in Kharkiv (Ukraine) In the Times of War"
Viktoriia Grivina, PhD Candidate, University of St. Andrews



Viktoriia Grivina
Viktoriia Grivina

On February 24, 2022 the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, 40 km from the border with Russia, woke up on the frontline of the large-scale war. The rapid drop in population from 1.5 million to 800,000 and continuous damage inflicted to urban infrastructure led to visible and invisible transformations affecting local habits, the way the city looks, the way its services operate and more. In her talk, Viktoriia Grivina will reflect on some of the strategies that the local government, big and small businesses, transport and communal services, as well as the inhabitants remaining in Kharkiv, have adopted in order to minimize the consequences of the large- and small-scale destructions, energy crisis, and the persistent danger resulting from daily shelling and missile strikes targeting residential areas of the city.

Taking the perspective of a local resident, Grivina will highlight the changes in daily routines of the city, survival strategies and methods of adaptation, from window protection to the rule of the two walls, amendments to everyday routines, shopping, commute and preparations for the winter season. Analyzing these changes might help us better understand how war (and other crises) reveal critical energy issues in the city, flaws in its infrastructure and the potential for energy efficiency improvements. 


 Wednesday, September 14
"Lithium-ion Battery Material Circularity: Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose, and Recycle"
Jessica Dunn, Senior Analyst, Union of Concerned Scientists


View a recording of this talk


Jessica Dunn
Jessica Dunn

The lithium-ion battery is a key enabling technology for transport decarbonization. While substantial impact reduction can be achieved, their use has also sparked concern due to the use of critical materials such as cobalt, nickel, and lithium. Through the circularity principles of reduce, reuse, repurpose, and recycle, resource conservation and impact mitigation can be achieved. This presentation will discuss current research, industry development, and policy which supports lithium-ion battery material circularity.  

Dunn is currently finishing her Doctorate in Energy Systems at the University of California, Davis. During her studies she was a co-facilitator for the California Lithium-ion Battery Recycling Advisory group and a private consultant for the International Energy Agency on topics related to energy technologies and battery systems. In addition, she published several academic journal articles about using industrial technology methods to forecast and evaluate the impact of battery recycling.

Prior to pursuing her doctorate, she earned a master's degree from University College London in Economics and Policy of the Environment and Energy and worked in the energy and environmental consulting industries.

Wednesday, September 28 
"Examining Electricity Consumption and Complementary Infrastructure for Small and Medium Enterprises in Kenya"
Bob Muhwezi, PhD Candidate, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Moderator: Erin Mayfield, Hodgson Family Assistant Professor of Engineering


    View a recording of this talk


    Bob Muhwezi
    Bob Muhwezi

    In Kenya, between 2010 and 2015, the number of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) connected to the grid increased by over 60%. Despite this substantial increase, little is known about the behavioral patterns or conditions that contribute to increased electricity consumption among these SMEs. In his talk, Bob Muhwezi, PhD student at the University of Amherst Massachusetts, will discuss a recent study that addresses the problem through a longitudinal analysis of monthly electricity bills for over 179,000 grid connected SMEs in Kenya. The study leverages multiple publicly available geospatial datasets to estimate how complementary infrastructural variables (such as access to roads, markets, financial services, and macro/micro-economic conditions) correlate with sustained electricity consumption growth by SMEs.

    Bob Muhwezi is a third year PhD student in the Electrical and Computer Engineering department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Prior to joining UMass, he graduated with a master's in electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) from Carnegie Mellon University-Africa in Kigali, Rwanda. He then worked in the planning department of the Energy Development Corporation (EDCL) of Rwanda where he was responsible for modeling optimal expansion of the nation's generation, transmission, and distribution infrastructure. His current research centers on the application of data-driven methods to understand electricity demand in data-scarce countries. Specifically, he uses a combination of remotely sensed and ground-collected data to understand how infrastructural features influence electricity consumption growth in some sub-Saharan countries.