Today, University of New Mexico alumna Kate Anderson received an award from the U.S. Clean Energy Education & Empowerment (C3E) for her contributions, leadership, and accomplishments in clean energy.
Anderson was honored with the Social, Economic, and Policy Innovation award during the annual C3E Symposium.
"There are so many amazing women out there doing incredible things in support of clean energy. I am really honored to be selected for this award, and I hope I can pass it on by helping to bring up the next generation of clean energy champions," said Anderson. "I’m especially grateful to be recognized at this year’s C3E symposium that focuses on justice and equity. To reach a clean energy future for all, we need everyone to be able to participate in and benefit from a clean, affordable, resilient energy system. I think this year’s symposium highlights the importance of justice in the energy transition."
Anderson is the chief of staff for Energy Systems Integration at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). Anderson is responsible for supporting operations and strategic planning activities focused on power systems, energy security and resilience, systems analysis, and decision science. She also coordinates energy justice activities across NREL, developing strategies to imbed equity in all phases of NREL’s work from research through deployment.
"I think this award recognizes that there are so many skills and types of people that are important in the clean energy transition. When we think about our national goals of achieving a carbon-free electricity sector by 2035 and a 100 percent clean energy economy by 2050, we have the technology needed to get most of the way there today," said Anderson. "The gap between where we are now and where we need to be is all about people, and why they choose to adopt – or not adopt- clean energy technologies. I think we can make huge strides forward by pairing the social scientists with the engineers to tackle these challenges."
In 2019, she was an R&D 100 award nominee for REopt Lite and in 2020, Anderson was recognized by the U.S. Department of Energy.
C3E is a collaborative effort between, The U.S. Department of Energy, MIT Energy Initiative, Stanford University’s Precourt Institute for Energy, and Texas A&M Energy. C3E is working to elevate women and close the gender gap in the clean energy sector. By amplifying women’s success stories, C3E helps diversify the field. Each year C3E presents awards recognizing mid-career women for their outstanding achievements.
"We are still at a point where women are under-represented in clean energy, as in many science and engineering fields," said Anderson. "I think it's really important to highlight the achievements of women in this space, because it gives girls and women just starting out in their careers an example of what it looks like to be a woman in this field, and lets them know that they belong here too. I hope it helps inspire more women to choose clean energy and to stay in clean energy fields."
Living in New Mexico inspired Anderson's career in clean energy. She pursued her MBA in Management of Technology at The University of New Mexico's Anderson School of Management.
"While living in Albuquerque, I became really interested in green building," she said. "New Mexico has a long tradition of sustainable building from adobe and straw bale homes to the Earthships up near Taos, made out of tires and designed to collect their own water and grow their own food. Being surrounded by that sparked a new passion, and I decided to pursue a career in energy efficiency and renewable energy.
"The courses that I took in economics and emerging technology innovation while getting my MBA at UNM were an important foundation to my career in analyzing renewable energy projects and guiding clean energy investment decisions. Those courses helped me understand that it's not just about having a technically viable product—you also need it to be economically feasible if you expect to see it widely adopted."
In addition to her MBA from UNM, Anderson received her bachelor’s degree in Aerospace Engineering from MIT and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Advanced Energy Systems at Colorado School of Mines.