Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) is an independent, entrepreneurial nonprofit think-and-do tank that drives the efficient and restorative use of resources—currently focused on accelerating the U.S. transition from fossil fuels to efficiency and renewables. Established in 1982, RMI began as a small group of colleagues focusing on energy solutions. It has since grown into a broad-based Institute with approximately 100 full-time staff, an annual budget of $18 million, and a global reach.
In December 2014, Rocky Mountain Institute and Carbon War Room (CWR)—two leading nonprofits tackling climate change through market-based solutions—aligned to catalyze an energy revolution and unlock the greatest wealth-creating opportunity in modern history. RMI and CWR will together leverage the agile power of markets to combat climate change, bolster economic prosperity, and tackle other social and environmental issues created by the global dependence on fossil fuels. The organizations’ alliance will multiply their respective impacts by jointly accelerating demand and financing for low-carbon solutions that are technically feasible and cost effective today.
We are seeking 3 full-time Fellows to fill summer opportunities for 12 weeks. Applicants will be asked to rank up to five fellowship opportunities from the list below when filling out the application.
Applicants should be pursuing a graduate or undergraduate degree in a related field and have basic knowledge of one or more of the team's’ focus areas—energy efficiency; renewable energy; demand-side management; building science and energy modeling; efficient and low carbon light duty cars and truck design; and transportation logistics. Where applicable, the applicant should be comfortable working with, or reporting on, numerical analysis and spreadsheet modeling, research and reporting.
In addition to skills and expertise, we value and seek the following qualities in our candidate: intense curiosity, self-motivated and able to work independently, willingness to plunge into unfamiliar disciplines, creativity and willingness to take risks by exploring and testing new ideas, and a passion for making the world better.
Specific qualifications for each of our internship program opportunities are listed below – Electricity Program, Buildings, Mobility, Emerging Economies, Cities Renewables Accelerator, Global Climate Finance, Industries, Digital Ventures, and Americas Pledge.
New York City; Washington, D.C.; Boulder or Basalt, Colorado
Interns will be asked to work in the same office as their immediate supervisor.
Fellowship Opportunity Descriptions:
Mobility - Boulder, CO
The project will deal with transportation electrification and address market barriers such as right-sizing the charging infrastructure required. RMI has lined up a series of projects for 2020 that all deal with varying degrees of data analysis and modeling to determine the economics and scale of EV charging infrastructure solutions required - and depending on timing, the project could revolve around the electrification of transit bus fleets, school bus fleets, or the consumer light duty vehicle sector. Most projects involve close work with electric utilities, which are critical stakeholders in both the electrification of transportation and the assurance that EVs will be integrated into our electrical system to ensure a more renewable and resilient grid. The intern can expect a fast-moving, intensely real-world experience helping not only our project client, but also contributing to the accelerated deployment of electric cars, buses, and trucks into a sector that now accounts for the largest carbon emissions in the US. Skills learned will include data management and analysis, insight creation and storytelling, and likely interaction with key stakeholders in transportation electrification.
Islands - New York, NY
The goal of this internship would be to build off the work already done by the Islands Team and quantitatively prove the value of distributing generation and storage assets near/in critical facilities as a way to build resilience and improve the economics of renewables. This intern would specifically build on the work started as a part of an RMI blog series on Critical Facilities: Where Government and Utilities Services Redefine Resilience and our ongoing work in the Bahamas following Hurricane Dorian, and address questions that the preliminary analysis was not able to tackle.
SEED - Boulder, CO
Analyzing the value of distributed energy resources (DERs) in the context of African utilities, to inform the design of business models that will enable increased uptake of DERs. This will expand on RMI’s long-standing work around DER valuation to identify solutions that are effective within utility paradigms in sub-Saharan Africa.
Quantifying minigrid cost reduction potential, particularly considering modular design strategies and demand-side management (including stimulation of productive use loads). This will build on RMI’s extensive work analyzing minigrid costs and evaluating electrification opportunities within agricultural value chains in Ethiopia and Nigeria.
Digital Ventures - Boulder, CO
By summer of next year we will be launching our first accelerator cohort. As part of the selection process, we expect to find some key opportunity areas/technologies that are very impactful, but more difficult to commercialize. This intern will help us make a deeper dive into these technologies to understand what is needed for a breakthrough. They will publish their findings, working together with the team, and those results will help the team design an intervention or select companies that can succeed in this key opportunity area for the next cohort.
Project scope for the intern will include:
- Perform literature review to understand current knowledge base
- Develop hypothesis together with ventures team
- Perform interviews and analysis to test hypothesis
- Create insight brief together with ventures team to share with sponsor network or broader audience
Global Climate Finance - Boulder, CO; Washington, D.C.
Climate-Aligned Financial Sector Project : Expectations about the financial sector’s role in shaping a sustainable plant have evolved rapidly and have converged on the notion of climate alignment—the process of aligning financing and investment decisions fully with the decarbonization trajectories implied by well-below 2C targets. RMI’s initiative for a Climate-Aligned Financial Sector works to overcome barriers to climate alignment by creating the agreements, tools, and practices to operationalize climate alignment among private financial institutions. Our team is looking for an intern to support our work, including helping shape a strategy for how financial institutions can best support the decarbonization of key emitting sectors and conducting a landscape of current climate alignment initiatives and gaps.
Key intern job responsibilities include:
- Providing core research
- Conducting interviews and engaging with key financial and industrial stakeholders
- Synthesizing recommendations into clear, compelling presentations, and written reports
Ideal candidates will have:
- Excellent writing and communication skills and ability to work independently and in a team
- Knowledge of capital markets, corporate finance, and the financial sector
- Experience conducting external outreach and interviews
- Comfort working with senior stakeholders in the financial and corporate sectors
State of Green Bank Development Project: With at least 35 countries around the world pursuing green banks and similar entities to crowd in private investment for low-carbon, climate resilient development, RMI and its partners created the Green Bank Design Platform to provide the resources and knowledge countries need. An important piece missing from this nascent ecosystem is a comprehensive understanding of the lessons from existing green banks and the state of development in all countries and jurisdictions working to form green banks. The “State of Green Bank Development” report will be a first-of-its-kind tool for policymakers and financial regulators to understand the paths available to them and for donor institutions and interested countries to understand the momentum that exists to date.
Key intern job responsibilities include:
- Providing core research
- Conducting interviews with key country, financial institution, and expert stakeholders
- Summarizing and analyzing qualitative and quantitative information gathered
Ideal candidates will have:
- Excellent research and analysis skills
- Experience conducting external outreach and interviews
- Strong writing and communication skills and ability to work independently and in a team
- Experience with green finance, public financial institutions, and/or communications strategies are helpful but not required
America’s Pledge - Boulder, CO
In summer 2020, the America's Pledge team will need help disseminating analysis findings to a range of stakeholders, with an emphasis on international stakeholders. The intern will support work to:
- Plan, coordinate, prepare materials for and participate in a series of briefing about the U.S. subnational climate movement with strategic stakeholders
- Create country-specific slides and targeted approaches
- Share America's Pledge findings with other stakeholders, including domestic stakeholders
- Complete other relevant and timely tasks, to be determined based on the domestic situation a few months before the internship
Beyond Carbon - Washington, D.C.
In summer 2020, Beyond Carbon will be in full swing, and RMI has multiple workstreams to complete. The intern's focus will be on the crosscutting analysis needs.
Project scope - Intern will support work to:
- Map greenhouse gas reduction pathways for a subset of U.S. states, including economy-wide pathways and sector by sector pathways for electricity, transportation, buildings, and industry
- Estimate the impact of proposed policies and efforts on state-level greenhouse gas emissions
- Translate those findings into easy to understand summaries, including through visual depiction
Cities Renewables Accelerator - Boulder, CO; Washington, D.C.
Summer 2020 will be a crucial time for CRA, which will be nearing the conclusion of its initial grant funding period. Intern support will be crucial as we develop ideas/ initiatives for the next iteration of the initiative. CRA also has several high-performing senior associates who are well-positioned to provide direction, mentorship, and coaching.
Project scope: 1
- Develop an online tool that would facilitate large aggregated renewable energy transactions, matching prospective buyers based on a range of parameters
- The project will entail working closely with the Renewable Energy Buyers’ Alliance (REBA)
Project scope 2
- Develop a primer on “How to be an effective intervenor”, to help educate cities and corporates on how to influence utility resource planning decisions
- The project will entail gleaning best practices from a range of external sources, including cities, advocacy organizations, former state regulators, and technical advisors like GreenLink and GridLab
Project scope 3
- Develop a piece of thought leadership, on unconventional solar projects, including parking canopies, rail corridors, landfills, brownfield sites, and water bodies
- The thought leadership would be underpinned by an NPV model that analyzes the economics of different site archetypes, as well as an analysis of the nationwide clean energy potential of these various siting options
Buildings - Boulder, CO; Oakland, CA; New York City, NY
Project Name: Global Cooling Prize
Job description: The intern will join the Global Cooling Prize team within RMI and support a market intelligence report on research, analysis and assessment of the residential cooling technology landscape including novel residential cooling technologies. The intern will also support the analysis of cooling performance testing data from HVAC technologies. The intern will have the opportunity of interacting with startups in this space to learn more about their cooling technology solutions.
Requirements: Mechanical engineer with HVAC expertise and experience. Masters degree preferred.
Project Name: Portfolio Energy Optimization
Job Description: Drive wide-scale adoption of carbon emissions reduction projects in existing commercial buildings. The initiative is focused on developing a software tool that combines EnergyPlus simulations, a project database, and financial analysis to provide a mass-customized approach to developing investment strategies. Several options will be available for the summer including helping expand software capability (e.g. develop a more detailed module for plug loads or water consumption) as well as work on active projects.
Project Name: Pathways to Zero
Job Description: Advance RMI's work on grid-interactive efficient buildings, including ongoing work with DOE, GSA, and NYSERDA
Responsibilities: Pending which projects are active at the time, but may include:
- Developing a best practices guide for building managers implementing grid-interactive efficient buildings measures
- Performing research and analysis to assist in studies of building portfolios looking to implement grid-interactive or load flexibility measures
- Policy research and analysis to aid in the development of state-level carbon neutrality pathways - which would require familiarity with load flexibility and energy efficiency
- Bonus: If the candidate is familiar with energy modeling tools and/or has strong quantitative skills
Electricity - Boulder, CO; New York, NY
Project overview: The BMRD team is seeking a talented intern to deliver insights on high priority regulatory and utility business model reforms. The intern will be responsible for providing research and project support to the BMRD team and its clients on topics that may include performance-based regulation, resource planning, or rate design. The intern will also work directly on a research assignment evaluating the organizational structures of different state Public Utility Commissions, with the goal of determining the structures that can best help regulators in transitioning to a modern, low-carbon grid.
The deliverable for this work will be some combination of a report/insight brief, blog post, briefing slides, and/or a presentation to the BMRD team and/or a wider audience on this topic.
Project overview: RMI's Clean Energy Planning (CEP) initiative is focused on accelerating the adoption of cost-effective renewables and other clean energy technologies within the US power system, and increasingly internationally. The CEP team is kicking off an effort to analyze the impact of wholesale electricity market design on the pace of renewables adoption. This project will seek to characterize the limits of current market designs and associated products (e.g., capacity, day-ahead and real-time energy, flexibility) on the incentives for clean energy investment and operations, and develop recommendations for decision-makers on how best to reform wholesale markets to cost-effectively speed the transition to clean energy. The effort will be focused on the US but with possible extension to other geographies.
- Quantitative modeling (e.g., in Excel, Python, MATLAB, or a similar platform) to characterize the changing resource and system attributes of a low-carbon electric grid.
- Literature review and synthesis across different studies and geographies of previous research and community perspectives on this topic.
- Interviews with external and internal subject matter experts, including utilities, system operators, resource developers, researchers, and others.
- Financial and technical analysis of different potential options for market participation and product definition.
- Development of recommendations and associated narrative for presentation internally and incorporation into published RMI research products.
Project overview: RMI’s Coal Endgame initiative is focused on accelerating the phaseout of uneconomic coal plants within the US power system. While coal-fired power generation is in decline, perverse structural incentives still pose a major barrier to the rapid decarbonization needed to meet Paris Agreement objectives. The Coal Endgame team is scaling up efforts to support and galvanize partners across the country to enable this transition - through financial modeling and analysis, paired with targeted convenings and stakeholder engagements. The team is also surveying ‘hard-to-close’ coal plants to determine the appropriate intervention and implementation strategies that ensure retirement in a swift timeframe, while providing assistance to impacted workers and communities. Coal plants may belong to investor-owned, cooperative and/or municipal utilities, thus operating under a variety of business models and regulatory regimes.
- Financial analysis and modeling to support partner and stakeholder efforts across the country
- Literature review and synthesis across different studies and geographies of previous research and community perspectives on ‘hard-to-close’ coal plants
- Interviews with external and internal subject matter experts, including utilities, regulators, advocates, researchers, and others
- Development of recommendations and associated narrative for presentation internally and incorporation into published RMI research products
Industry - Boulder, CO; New York, NY
RMI's Industry program is working on a critical piece of the climate puzzle: decarbonizing the world's goods and services, including how they are designed, sourced, produced and delivered. As the Energy Transition Commission noted in its Mission Possible report, the biggest challenge to meeting the Paris agreement and reaching net-zero emissions by mid-century, lies within these hard-to-abate sectors. But RMI’s Industry program is working hard to make it happen.
Specifically, our efforts are focused on reducing emissions related to:
- Materials like steel, cement, minerals, and plastics
- The energy used in production, manufacturing, and transportation
- Heavy transport through shipping, trucking, and aviation
All Industry Program interns will:
- Support the continued development of their respective project
- Provide core project research
- Guide work with new hypothesis and propose new analysis approaches
- Synthesize recommendations into clear, compelling presentations and written reports
Energy Initiative / Methane:
The Methane Initiative is focused on helping drive increased monitoring and abatement of methane emissions from natural gas, a key energy input to the industrial sector. Both internships are based in Boulder, CO and will be reporting to Chathu Gamage.
Project scope for Methane Intern 1:
This person will support the development and deployment of a certification standard for methane-managed natural gas in the US and Europe, as well as regulatory analysis and tracking of developments in methane monitoring technologies.
Project scope for Methane Intern 2:
The person in this role will support the continued development of a methane emissions transparency engine that autonomously integrates measured data, modeled data, and asset data (location, type, production rates, age, etc.). We will use the data to develop use cases targeted for buyers, operators, investors, regulators, and the public.
They will think about limitations and strengths about various methane emissions monitoring technologies, how best to leverage modeled emissions results to design cost effective methane emissions monitoring programs, and what asset variables must be analyzed to lead to methane emissions reduction. Results from these analyses will be used to develop capex and opex cost estimates for emissions monitoring, which will be used as data input streams into a financial pro forma for a sustainable monitoring program.
Our 2020 Summer Intern will be involved in the “demand pull” side, in specific with the task to develop a diagnostic benchmark of existing accounting and certification methodologies, as well as stakeholder programs (procurement, policy, investors) that materials providers are exposed to. This will include a deeper dive on existing tools that can subsequently be leveraged in the implementation phase of a standard methodology for materials, which the Initiative is in the process of developing as part of an industry-funded collaborative effort. Above and beyond this specific project, the intern will also support the ongoing work of the Materials Initiative via on-demand support to ongoing activities, including possibly some client or research work.
A curious mindset and a keen interest in the industrial energy transition
- An understanding of zero-carbon energy technologies, and at least a basic familiarity with the GHG Protocol and carbon accounting
- Ability to conduct independent research and communicate effectively and concisely
- Literate in Excel modeling, energy modeling a plus (e.g. Homer)
- Previous industry experience a plus
The Heavy Transport Initiative is focused on decarbonizing the global freight system, focusing on on-land hauling (trucking) and aviation. We work with industry and public sector partners to accelerate the deployment of low and zero carbon technologies and fuels. The Heavy transport team has a global focus, with work in the US, India and China. This internship is based in Basalt, CO – in the heart of the Roaring Fork and close to world class outdoor activities (hiking, mountaineering, rock climbing, mountain biking, etc.).
Project scope for Freight Electrification Intern:
This person will be using large vehicle data sets to enhance planning for fast charging infrastructure in cities. As the use of electric vehicles becomes increasingly viable in urban logistics, the need to provide them with a robust charging network is growing increasingly acute. To meet that need, RMI is working with major fleets to analyze driving patterns of electric urban delivery vehicles and understand the factors that drive charger selection and utilization rates. The intern will apply their data science expertise to uncover those relationships.
An ideal candidate will have:
- Strong Python background and experience using python packages (NumPy, Pandas, scikit-learn, etc.) for data analysis, and strong SQL skills for data storage and retrieval.
- Strong GIS skills (ArcGIS) and a familiarity with the Azure suite of cloud based tools (PySpark, DataFactory, DataBricks, etc.)
- Most importantly the successful intern will be curious, creative and persistent: to be successful in this role the intern must be comfortable with creating new analytical approaches, testing them, failing, understanding why and trying again.
The deliverable for this intern will be a blog post, report or insight brief giving guidance to cities and logistics vehicle operators about how to align their charging infrastructure deployments with the travel patterns of their fleets.