Ian McClenny, Energy Specialist
Ian McClenny is an Energy Specialist with expertise in renewable energy resources, smart grid technologies, and electricity markets. A published research scientist in the field of electrochemical energy storage, he has extensive experience working with multi-national battery firms developing market-ready solutions for both electric utilities and commercial end users. At RTI, Ian conducts energy sector analyses spanning techno-economic, commercial, regulatory and policy aspects of energy system advancement and deployment. Additionally, he contributes to on-grid and off-grid renewable energy project development, climate mitigation strategies, electric utility operations improvement, and demand-side management, among other sector-specific tasks that enhance the positive impact of electricity in emerging markets. Ian holds a master’s degree in Chemical Engineering and Materials Science from Virginia Commonwealth University.
What attracted you to renewable energy?
I grew to love everything renewable energy technology by proxy; climate change and energy access are the overarching issues that stimulated my appetite to learn more about the energy sector. My values ultimately lie with enabling positive environmental and economic impacts on people. Today, I strive to answer the renewable energy industry’s toughest problems that plague grids around the globe. I particularly have found a niche in studying energy storage technologies. I believe that electricity storage is the key technology that will usher the world into an energy renaissance. I am fully engaged on how we at RTI can be on the forefront of innovation for renewable energy and energy storage in the varying contexts we work in.
How important is diversity in your research area?
The way that people around the world consume energy is characteristically distinct; it is important to understand the nuance of this. The energy industry needs people from diverse backgrounds that can articulate their community’s distinctive issues. The shift to distributed energy and the regionalization of resources in my opinion is a direct reflection of increased understanding of the way people live. End users of the electricity are institutions that we frequent every day like schools, churches, the barber, and local markets. Building a resilient system that powers these institutions is of the utmost importance to me. It improves the quality of lives for the collective, and it starts with listening to people from outside our realm of understanding.
Who are the influential Black role models in your life?
On a personal level, I would not be anywhere without the love and support of my family. They are my role models, champions, critics, and supporters no matter the circumstance. Professionally, Dr. Karl Reid of the National Society of Black Engineers has served as a role model I lean on as I continue to navigate my path in the energy sector.
I am generally a lover of greatness, so I love to study the lives and decisions of some of the heralded black leaders of our past. Martin, Malcolm, Madame CJ Walker, Shirley Chisolm are all individuals that I have spent hours upon hours reading about and internalizing since high school.
I think it’s also important to highlight our modern-day change agents, especially in the midst of the Black renaissance we are currently in. A few that I find myself reading and listening to in recent history are Michael Render (aka “Killer Mike”), Van Jones, Maya Wiley, and Ta-Nehisi Coates.
When you are not working on renewable energy, what do you like to do in your spare time?
I am an avid basketball fan; I spend a considerable amount of my spare time as a basketball official. It has allowed me to travel places and meet people that I otherwise would not have had the opportunity. Outside of that, I enjoy reading, listening to podcasts, and playing golf.