Empowering your products; extending your reach
 

Our Team

 
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Vijay Bhopal | Managing Director

Vijay has worked in renewable energy since 2011, initially in Scotland where he raised funds for, and led a range of projects, included multi-million pound community-commercial wind energy joint ventures, local energy systems and energy ICT projects.

Since 2014 Vijay has spearheaded Urjaa Samadhan, an Odisha, India, based social enterprise working with poor users of off-grid solar equipment in India. He has also been a driving force behind the development of Cloud Solar - one of Connected Energy's first products.

Vijay's achievements in the renewable energy sector were recognised with the ‘Entrepreneur Award’ at the inaugural Scottish Renewables’ Young Professional’s Green Energy Awards 2015. He also provided analysis to the seminal annual report into the energy access market, The Poor People’s Energy Outlook, for the past 2 years. Vijay is Co-Director at Scene, one of Connected Energy's parent organisations.

 
 
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Jelte Harnmeijer | Development Director

Jelte spent most of his life in Southern Africa, and worked as an Astrobiologist before taking on off-grid energy.  He is a social entrepreneur with over a decade of experience in and around renewable energy policy, research and delivery.  Jelte is particularly comfortable in the domains of microgeneration, energy access, shared ownership – and Last Mile ICT.  He has published widely around issues to do with community energy.

Jelte is tasked with overseeing Connected Energy's business development activities.

 

 
 
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Joel Chaney | R&D Director

Joel leads the R&D team and is experienced in experimental design, machine learning, hardware design and has a range of coding abilities. He loves innovation, simplifying and redesigning existing technologies and approaches to tackle complex problems. Joel is passionate about the internet of things approached for social good.

Prior to leading the development of Connected Energy’s technologies, Joel worked as a research associate at Heriot Watt University, developing smart demand response technologies for improved management of local energy systems. He was a key team member in the Europa FP7 project ORIGIN, which was awarded an excellent rating, and resulted in several leading spin out technologies in the energy management field. Prior to this Joel worked for Nottingham University on a UK-India collaboration on biogas and gasification technologies. Joel is a Co-Founder, Director and Trustee of CREATIVenergie.

 
 
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Gareth Selby | Engineering Director

Gareth is an Architect and Engineer specialising in low carbon design, having worked on a number of Passivhaus projects and currently working on the University of East Anglia’s Enterprise Centre that is set to be the largest Passivhaus in the country.

Gareth is a founding Director of CREATIVenergie and has been overall project manager of the development of Smart Biogas Network, though an Innovate UK funded project. Gareth received training in biogas with BSP Nepal and through CREATIVenergie has designed a number of biogas plants focusing on reducing costs and increasing reliability in Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania and the Philippines. Gareth is also a trustee of a charity in Ghana so brings a wealth of experience in the East and West African context.

 
 
 
 
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Alex Schlicke | Non-Executive Director

Alex is a project manager, as well as being a chartered landscape architect and planner with 17 years’ experience of renewable energy development. He has worked across the spectrum of renewable energy typologies from small-scale to national scale developments. Alex has developed expertise in local energy systems, and is now project managing innovative system projects which involve combinations of clean heat and power generation, storage, electric transport and elements of smart energy & demand side management.

As co-director of Scene, Alex advises on the business development of Connected Energy and is actively seeking opportunities for the market development within the UK.

 
 
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Olivier Phillipon | Lead Software Developer

Olivier has been a passionate Web Developer for 18 years, working for web agencies and start-ups and bigger companies like Le Monde - one of the main French newspapers. During the last few years he has worked as a consultant to help start-ups build the first version of their products- dealing with the "post-MVP" phase- and train their development teams with modern web best practices.

His experience with start-ups allows him to identify factors of technical debt and to prevent or contain them when they emerge.

After having worked with some companies that he perceived to not bring any real value to this world, Olivier decided to dedicate his work to better causes when possible. When the opportunity arose, he enthusiastically joined Connected Energy.

 
 
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Jordan Silverman | Technical Designer

Jordan has been working in R&D in the energy access space for 2 years after completing an MSc in Practising Sustainable Development with a specialisation in ICT4D. His master’s research led him to explore the potential use of smart-phone management systems in the small-scale fishing industry in the Caribbean, linking with a research team from the University of West Indies. Having completed a BSc in Environmental and Geographical Science at the University of Cape Town, Jordan has an understanding of environmental challenges in a developing world context.

Recently, Jordan has taken a development role building IoT systems for energy access in rural communities and has built an understanding of the technical challenges involved in using open-source hardware. He has a unique combination of social research skills and hardware development experience.

 
 
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Catherine Munyarari | Office Administrator

A recent King’s College London Geography graduate with a keen interest in renewable energy and ICT4D. At King’s College London Catherine worked on a social enterprise project; training rural microentrepreneurs in Tanzania to sell and manufacture clean fuel solutions. The project went on to win the UK Enactus 2017 National Competition-and it was this passion for making an impact that bought her to Connected Energy. 

As the newest member of the team, Catherine works to support the finance and business administration across all the projects in the organisation.  

 
 
 
 
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Rowan Spear | Product and UX Designer

Rowan holds an MA in Product Design from the University of Edinburgh where his research focussed on the intelligent use of plastics within a circular economy. This research included investigations into more environmentally sustainable solar pico and solar home systems in East Africa and the Indian subcontinent. Rowan continues to research and design for this space through his role as project manager and designer at the University of Edinburgh.

Rowan joined the Connected Energy team from CREATIVenergie having engaged with the initial design of Smart Biogas Network. He brings knowledge of human-centred design practices and experience of conducting user engagement workshops in Kenya and Tanzania.

 
 
 
 
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Esther Chaney | Communications

Esther read Geography at the University of Cambridge and holds a Masters degree in Organisational Change and Development from the University of Manchester. She has worked in a variety of roles within charitable organisations including as office manager in rural Ghana; providing legal advice for refugees and asylum seekers; and project managing a volunteer service of emergency accommodation for teenagers at risk of homelessness. In 2012 Esther began to focus on using her proof reading, copy editing and project management skills in support of psychologists assessing the impact of trauma and abuse on mental health, in particular for victims of domestic violence and trafficking.

Esther has been the Communications and Administrative Manager of CREATIVenergie since 2014, a varied role that allows her to utilise her expertise in project management, copy editing and proof reading within the renewable energy for international development sector. She recently joined the Connected Energy team to assist with grant writing and communication. Esther now splits her time between CREATIVenergie, Connected Energy and looking after an inquisitive toddler!

 
 
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Guilhem Forey | Software Developer

Guilhem is a software engineer and a lover of innovation with a strong belief that technological solutions and conscious application of A.I. will be humanity's answer to our biggest environmental challenges. He studied computer science at Napier University in Edinburgh and electrical engineering in Nantes, France. Having gained knowledge in full-stack software engineering, web development, and is currently immersing himself in machine learning.

Guilhem cultivates his technological skills and problem-solving attitude at Connected Energy with dedication to it's green mission, balancing it with artistic expression as a jazz pianist.

 
 
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Chris Donnelly | Software Developer

Chris holds an BA in Economics from Strathclyde University and the IMC from the CFA Society.  He spent twelve years working in the asset management industry for a global investment business with a focus on responsible and sustainable investment.  This included mutual funds investing in listed companies screened on a variety of sustainable and ethical criteria, as well as private equity portfolios investing in clean tech companies and carbon management/neutralisation strategies.

With a keen interest in how technology will shape our approach to solving structural problems in developed and developing economies, Chris retrained in software development so that he could contribute to the design and creation of the technological solutions tackling these issues.

 
 
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Elena Lape | Software Developer

Elena is an aspiring engineer and an Artificial Intelligence and Computer Science student at The University of Edinburgh. She loves all things tech and has done various software engineering internships, including one at Nasdaq, where she was automating systems monitoring tools. Elena believes in learning through practice, and so has contributed to several open source projects.

As much as learning, she loves teaching, and so currently tutors Natural Language Processing and Software Engineering at the University. Although Machine Learning and AI are her main focus in her degree, she is passionate about web development, and has been to over 10 hackathons in three continents where she won various prizes for making innovative applications.

Within Connected Energy, Elena is mostly working on backend development and enjoys learning about renewable energy. When not at work or studying, she is a hackathon director and an amateur cook.