Meet our Energy Centre members and learn more about their research from their staff profiles.

Research centre members

Dr Anna Berka 

Anna holds degrees in biology, environmental science and economics from Oxford University, Wageningen University, and the Free University of Amsterdam. She is co-founder of a UK-based consultancy in community energy (Scene Connect) and recently completed a Marie Curie funded PhD fellowship programme ‘Careers for Sustainability Excellence’ (CASTLE). Her work has largely focussed on the assessment of the risks, costs and local impacts of community energy projects, as well as comparative energy governance for distributed generation and community energy. Other topics have included effective policy frameworks for sustainable bioenergy, technology failure and delivery models for renewable energy in rural areas of the developing world. Her current research explores the business case for civic energy in New Zealand. 

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Dr Julie MacArthur

Julie holds a PhD in Political Science (Simon Fraser University 2012). She researches in the area of comparative energy policy and community-based renewable energy initiatives in Canada, New Zealand and the UK. Dr MacArthur has published widely in the area of environmental governance, social economics and Energy Policy. She is the author of ‘Empowering Electricity’ which investigates Canadian renewable electricity co-operatives and energy policy (UBC Press 2016). She also teaches courses in the Masters of Public Policy programme and in Politics and International Relations at the University of Auckland.

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Dr Stephen Poletti 

Stephen holds a PhD in Mathematical Physics (Newcastle upon Tyne, 1991) and a PhD in Economics (the University of Auckland, 2006). His working experience includes teaching and research in Australia and New Zealand and he has published widely on Physics as well as Economics in refereed journals, like Information Economics and Policy, Journal of Regulatory Economics and Physical Review. Lately his research has focused on network interconnection, time-of-use pricing and market power.

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Dr Erwann Sbai 

Erwann holds a PhD in Economics (University of Toulouse, 2003). His main research interests are in the field of econometrics, in particular developing models for estimating empirical game models. One example can be to empirically characterise generators strategic behaviour in New Zealand electricity wholesale market. Erwann is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Economics where he started employed in 2004.

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Dr Mingyue Sheng 

Mingyue holds a PhD in Economics from the University of Auckland. She comes with expertise in applied economics/econometrics, and advanced data analysis especially in the field of transport economics. Before joining the Energy Centre, she was one of the lecturing team members for CIVIL770 at the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering​. Her current research focuses on intelligent transport systems, road safety issues and spatial econometrics.

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Dr Kiti Suomalainen 

Kiti holds a PhD in Sustainable Energy Systems (Technical University of Lisbon, 2011) and a MSc in engineering physics and industrial ecology (Chalmers University of Technology, 2006). She worked as a researcher at the Joint Research Centre, Institute for Energy and Transport, in the Netherlands before joining the Energy Centre as Postdoctoral Research Fellow in May 2013. She spent 18 months at the Centre for Sustainability (University of Otago) in 2016-2017 participating in research on electricity demand in the residential sector. Kiti’s current research focuses on renewable energy resources in the New Zealand energy system.

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Bart van Campen 

Bart has a background in electrical engineering (MSc - Eindhoven University of Technology) and public administration (MA - Erasmus University Rotterdam and Université Catholique de Louvain) and more than 10 years of work experience in the energy sector: working for the United Nations in Latin America and Italy on small-scale renewable (hydro and solar) projects and policies; as well as in the private sector in the Netherlands and Germany as a consulting engineer. His research includes the impact of distributed generation, integration of renewables, smart metering and demand side response.

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Dr Le Wen 

Le holds a PhD in Economics from the University of Auckland. She comes with expertise in theoretical and applied economics, econometrics, and advanced data analysis. Before joining the Energy Centre, she lectured resource economics in the Economics Department in AUT. Her current research interest includes the impact of wind power on electricity price.

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Dr Golbon Zakeri 

Golbon holds a PhD in Mathematics and Computer Science (University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1995). Her interests are developing mathematical and economics models for the optimisation and interactions of participants in energy markets with a particular emphasis in the New Zealand Electricity Market (NZEM). Golbon's research spans developing the individual optimisation models under uncertainty, that single firms utilise in decision making to game theory models that are utilised to investigate optimal regulatory policies. Golbon is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Engineering Science where she started employment in 2000, subsequent to a period of Postdoctoral Fellowship at Argonne National Labs.

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PhD students

Sina Ahmadzadeh is doing a PhD in economics. His research focuses on climate change. He is investigating the economic and environmental impacts of implementing decarbonising policies, with a particular focus on Environmental Tax Reform (ETR) in New Zealand, using an integrated assessment modelling (IAM) approach. He is also analysing other low-cost carbon abatement policies that can be used in combination with NZ ETS.

Lingli Qi is researching the benefits, barriers and design of New Zealand​'s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). Lingli's research focuses on the design and effectiveness of New Zealand's ETS. Her research will clarify the gains and losses to New Zealand's economy, energy and environment systems using CGE (General Equilibrium Analysis) and other econometrics models. The study will also estimate the gains and losses associated with trade between New Zealand and China within the context of emissions trading.

Tongyu (Melody) Meng's thesis is titled "Social Impact Components of Renewable Energy Investment: At the Intersection of Social, Environmental, and Financial Returns". Tongyu's research focuses on social impact investment in the renewable energy sector, specifically the relationship between social/environmental and financial returns in China and other OECD countries, and how this relationship influences renewable energy investment decision-making. Tongyu has an MSc in International Development (University of Edinburgh) and MBA training (European School of Management and Technology, Berlin). She has diverse experience working for non-profit and for-profit organisations in a range of sectors including renewable energy markets, cross-border e-commerce, consulting, aviation, real estate, media, education, sports, tourism, logistics, retail, and hospitality.

Wenwen Zhang is researching energy and environmental economics, focussing on China’s air pollution, energy consumption, and economic development. Her research intends to propose suitable energy and environmental policy for China based on the Dynamic Computable General Equilibrium model and the Econometrics model.