Chantelle Janse van Vuuren.  Chantelle is currently an Electrical and Electronic Engineering Masters student at Stellenbosch University, with a passion for learning. Her Masters research focuses on solar PV and wind energy, with specific interest in the time of use scheduling and optimal geo-location of these farms. This benefits local and rural communities as it creates incentives to develop these renewable plants in their surrounding areas.

Throughout her university career she has been an engineering intern at The Unique Group: Subsea, Offshore and Life Support Solutions and she does part time work for AURORA POWER SOLUTIONS (PTY) LTD.

She obtained 85% for her final year B. Eng. project in the development and implementation of a distributed temperature measurement system, for modelling a hot water cylinder’s internal heat distributions. The internal temperature distribution of a hot water storage system is an important consideration in designing such a system to minimise heat losses. This temperature distribution is also highly dynamic during the heating and draw-off phases. This project involves the development and testing of a cost‐effective temperature monitoring system with distributed sensors to map the dynamic temperature distribution inside a domestic hot water storage system. The internal mapping allowed for real world conclusions to be drawn on the best usage methodologies for these systems to avoid bacteria growth, as well as optimise system efficiency. 

Her Masters topic focuses on the development of a time of use regional feed-in tariff design methodology to optimise grid support from Renewable Energy Sources. More so, this project aims to incentivise independent renewable power producers to spread energy plants to all areas of the 8 renewable energy development zones. This is achieved with an in-depth solar PV and wind energy production yield analysis throughout South Africa. In turn, this will allow for increased grid support as well as rural community development, while creating equal wealth generation opportunity with regards to renewable energy throughout the country.


Kyle Swartz. Kyle completed his undergraduate degree in Geography, Environmental and Sustainability Studies at the University of the Western Cape where his undergraduate pursuits have been largely driven by an interest in a career in the renewable energy sector. In 2016, after completing his undergraduate degree, Kyle spent one year as an intern based within Energy and Climate Change Unit at the City of Cape Town where his renewable energy interest developed into addressing energy access, energy poverty and developmental challenges faced in the Global South.

In late 2016, Kyle was awarded the Doug Banks Renewable Energy Vision Scholarship towards a Masters degree at Stellenbosch University. His Masters research explores how socio-economic development funds, made available by developers within the REIPPPP, can be effectively used to address energy access and energy poverty in beneficiary communities. As part of his Masters journey Kyle is part of the Renewable Energy Transitions research team established at the Centre for Complex Systems in Transition at Stellenbosch University. The research group, headed by Prof Mark Swilling, supports a team of postgraduate researchers who study the developmental impacts of the REIPPPP.

Kyle currently works as a part-time research intern at the Management Programme in Infrastructure Reform & Regulation at the Graduate School of Business, University of Cape Town where he assists with research on renewable energy auctions and private power investment in sub-Saharan Africa.


Kimenthrie Pillay Since completing her MPhil (title) at the University of Cape Town’s Energy Research Centre, Kim has spent a year as intern with the City of Cape Town’s Department of Energy and Climate Change.

Working under Sarah Ward, she was involved in driving new developments in the City’s Low Income Energy Services work. This included working on spatial analysis and technical and financial modelling tools that will help to streamline implementation over the next few years. Of her work here Kim says, ‘I have learnt so much and developed skills I never knew I needed’.

In May 2016, sponsored by DBREV, she attended the International Tech4Dev Conference in Lausanne, Switzerland, where she was accepted to do a poster presentation about her Masters project, ‘Crowd-Sourcing Energy Poverty Data in South African Informal Settlements: The Opportunity of Mobile Phone Technology’.

Her Masters research work is being useful in practical applications, being implemented by the City to investigate the time of use of energy services (both electrical and non-electrical) for low income households, as well as being used for the monitoring and evaluation survey for the ceilings retrofit program.

Even though she has been accepted for a PhD at an Australian university, she has chosen instead to focus on building a new energy consultancy, Thrie Energy Collective, which will be focused on work that improves the sustainability of energy practices, enhances understanding of the needs of communities and advances the potential for technology and development to thrive in Africa.


Sean Kirsten, the 2013 DBREV Scholar, will complete his Masters in Business Science (Economics) in April this year. His research topic explores energy efficiency in low cost houses in the Western Cape, using the community of Mamre as a case study. This involves the compilation of a cost benefit analysis and survey report on the importance of ceilings in low cost houses looking at the health, economic and energy benefits.  This report will hopefully be used by policy makers to advocate for future ceiling retrofit programmes.


For Sean, the DBREV Scholarship has enabled him to link up with academics and professionals in the energy field to gather information and share thoughts. This has been an invaluable experience in shaping, finalising and gathering momentum for his thesis. Having funding has removed financial pressure and allowed him to focus solely on his Masters and allowed him the freedom to work consistently and diligently.


Riaan Opperman, the 2012 DBREV Scholar, completed his M Tech (Eng) at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU). His project involved the development of a Hydrokinetic Coil Pump (HCP) which is a pump powered by flowing water. A test rig was designed and built to identify and analyse factors that would optimise the use of a HCP in rural applications. The potential output of a HCP is sufficient to supply a small rural community with running water

Riaan is currently working as a project engineer at eNtsa, a technology station at NMMU. One of the projects he is involved with is the design of a completely renewable energy powered LED street light with WiFi capabilities. A vertical axis wind turbine and a solar panel will provide the RE power supply to the system.

Riaan is thankful for the support provided by the DBREV Scholarship, as he would otherwise not have been able to complete his studies and consequently not have been able to accept his current position at eNtsa.


Gabrielle (Gaby) Coppez has the distinction of being the first DBREV Scholar. Her 2011 MSc (Eng) was completed at UCT in the Department of Electrical Engineering and entitled ‘Optimal Sizing of Hybrid Renewable Energy Systems for Rural Electrification’. While the thesis looked at problems and challenges facing electricity supply in rural areas of South Africa in particular, Gaby’s object was the creation of a software tool for feasibility assessment that can be used to calculate the size and type of the Hybrid Renewable Energy System (HRES) that is best suited, in view of the energy demands calculated, for a particular rural area.

Gaby writes: “Receiving this scholarship from DBREV was momentous for me. As well as being a great financial help, it introduced me to many people who expanded my vision on rural electrification and what it means in South Africa. The mentors that I had during this time, Wendy Annecke and Dave Gale, were amazing, walking alongside me, asking good questions and being available when I needed them. It really made a big difference to have a group of people that I could call on and discuss things with, who asked hard questions and helped me to focus on, not only the academic side of things, but the real, practical implications of things too. That was really invaluable.

Gabrielle currently lives in Brussels, Belgium, and is working for Pall LifeSciences as an automation engineer, developing and supporting a range of controllers designed for bioreactors used in the Pharmaceutical industry for creating lower cost vaccines. She is still passionate about South Africa and the use of renewable energy and plans to return to South Africa in the coming years and, once again, become involved in this area of work.

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