Dr Desen Kirli wins prestigious green energy award

Dr Desen Kirli (front row, centre) pictured with other winners at the Scottish Renewables Young Professionals Green Energy Awards 2023 in Glasgow
Dr Desen Kirli (front row, centre) pictured with other winners at the Scottish Renewables Young Professionals Green Energy Awards 2023 in Glasgow

Dr Desen Kirli has won a Scottish Renewables Young Professionals Green Energy Award for her work decarbonising smart local energy systems.

She was among eight young professionals honoured at an awards ceremony in Glasgow last night for "leading the way on our drive towards a clean, green future".

The event took place at the Grand Central Hotel in the city with 300 people celebrating the next generation of talent emerging in the industry. 

There were eight categories highlighting pioneers pushing ahead with a drive to change the renewable energy sector for the better. Dr Kirli won the Academic Award, which was sponsored by Energy Technology Partnership (ETP) Scotland – an independent partnership of 14 Scottish universities engaged in world-class energy research and innovation.

Research achievements

Dr Kirli uses digital and data-driven technologies to create more efficient ways of storing and consuming energy within local communities, to reduce stress on the national grid and decrease society’s reliance on centrally generated fossil fuels.

She focuses on smart local energy systems – which employ digital technologies to intelligently link up the supply and demand of energy services across local areas to reduce waste, respond flexibly to the needs of energy users, and support the growth of vibrant net zero local economies.

As an early-career academic, Dr Kirli’s ambition is to bridge the gap between academic research and industrial implementation to accelerate decarbonisation of our energy systems. She aspires to enable a cost-effective and fair energy transition, using digital and data-driven technologies, smart contracting, and artificial intelligence (AI) to maximise benefits for energy users and other stakeholders.

Dr Kirli is particularly interested in exploring the techno-economic potential and scalability of such bottom-up decarbonisation strategies to achieve the UK’s 2050 net zero target.

She was shortlisted in the Scottish Renewables awards for her work exploring the use of smart local energy systems across Scottish energy communities – using a case study in Aberdeenshire, in collaboration with the community energy company Scene Connect.

Academic career 

Earlier this year, Dr Kirli was appointed as one of the School of Engineering’s inaugural Elizabeth Georgeson Fellows – a scheme established in honour of the first woman to gain a degree in engineering from a Scottish university, to encourage talented postdoctoral researchers from underrepresented groups to pursue careers in engineering academia.

Previously, Dr Kirli worked on the EPSRC DISPATCH Project which aimed to create more user-centric, decarbonised heating and cooling solutions.

She studied in our School at both undergraduate and postgraduate level – having gained an award-winning Master of Engineering degree in 2018, and a PhD on the impact of peer-to-peer trading and flexibility on local energy systems in 2022.


Reacting to her shortlisting, Dr Kirli said:

"It is a true honour to be a finalist for the Scottish Renewables' Green Energy Academic Award 2023. The recognition of my work in smart local energy systems has boosted my motivation to research data-driven and digital solutions in order to enable a cost-effective and fair energy transition both in Scotland and around the globe."

Scottish Renewables chief executive, Claire Mack, congratulated the winners.:

"It is incredibly important that Scottish Renewables recognises the young professionals who will continue our drive towards a clean, green future. The future is bright for those who want a career focused on green energy.

"Scotland’s renewable energy industry already supports more than 27,000 jobs and we know that about 22,000 undergraduates are studying renewables-related subjects at college or university.

“It is truly reassuring to know that the innovation and skills of the people taking part tonight will play a key role in delivering on our clean, green, net-zero ambitions."

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