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Personal profile

Research interests

Energy policy, environmental decision-making, sustainable systems, sustainable cities

Biography

Lee is a Research Fellow with the Zero Carbon Energy in the Asia Pacific Grand Challenge program. She earned her PhD in Urban Planning and Development at the University of Southern California’s Sol Price School of Public Policy, specializing in examining city policies and individual-level behavioural interventions that can increase sustainable behaviour.

Lee holds a Bachelor of Applied Science in Energy Management from the University of Otago. She has published in areas including drivers of residential solar adoption, predictors of intent to adopt electric vehicles, and household response to demand management rates to shift timing of electricity use.

Her research relates to understanding how systems can be changed to increase clean technology adoption, including policies that can make distributed generation more accessible to individuals. Lee’s current work includes studying city-level policies to mitigate climate change, examining energy justice issues that may be raised by demand management rates, and understanding policy needs to support a socio-technical transition to green hydrogen as a rising technology.


Qualifications

PhD

Researcher's projects

Lee White's ongoing work examines regulatory and governance frameworks to support systemic transition to widespread use of electricity generated from renewable sources. Her research spans examanination of this transition from the perspective of electricity consumers and the perspective of local governments.

How can we involve renters in the renewable energy transition in Australia?

Lee White is project manager for this work, led by Mara Hammerle and funded by Energy Consumers Australia, to investigate the question: how can we involve renters in the energy transition? At present, Australian renters are very unlikely to either find a home to rent that has rooftop solar, or to be able to add rooftop solar to a home once they have rented it. Compared to homeowners, they are also less likely to own energy efficient appliances or to live in dwellings that consume low levels of energy. The study focuses on two research questions. First, what barriers currently prevent Australian property investors from investing in rooftop solar and energy efficiency for their properties and what is the relative importance of the barriers? Second, what would be the optimal design of a policy to support the uptake of solar panels and energy efficiency on rented rooftops? The project’s webpage can be found at: https://sites.google.com/view/renenergy4renters/home

What do cities have to learn from each other about the best tools to get to 100% renewable city-wide energy?

This project aims to identify key actor linkages and structural barriers that shape the type of policy tools that cities are able to implement in the sustainability space, and how the policy tools used work alongside these linkages and barriers to shape project outcomes and pathways to wider impact. The objective of this project is to produce recommendations for sustainably-inclined city governments, specifically being able to recommend categories of policy tools that are most likely to achieve desired outcomes in face of local linkages and barriers.

Maximizing consumer ability to manage electricity demand

This project is supported by the Icon Water and ActewAGL Endowment Fund. Working with ActewAGL, the research team will evaluate the extent to which poorly insulated homes limit people’s ability to control bills when on demand management rates such as time-of-use. This project builds on prior research by Dr White which established that time-of-use rates, while valuable for integrating intermittent renewable generation, can lead to disproportionately large bill increases for groups more likely to live in poorly insulated homes that don’t maintain temperatures well.

Developing certification systems for low-carbon hydrogen markets 

This project aims to understand key features of a certification system for low-carbon hydrogen. Certification will be key to separating low-carbon hydrogen from carbon-intensive hydrogen in international trade markets; without a form of certification, low-carbon hydrogen cannot be traded as a premium product, and cannot fulfil its role in supporting a clean energy transition. The project encompasses work by many researchers within the Energy Change Institute’s Grand Challenge for Zero Carbon Energy in the Asia Pacific. Lee is leading development of work examining defining boundaries of the value chain to include in hydrogen certification, and is facilitating transdisciplinary cooperation between team members from the social and technical sciences.

Expertise Areas

  • URBAN AND REGIONAL PLANNING
  • Econometric and Statistical Methods
  • Panel Data Analysis
  • Environment Policy

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