Rob Bailis

Senior Scientist


Somerville, MA
rob.bailis@sei-us.org
skype: rbailis
+1 (617) 627 3786

Rob is a senior scientist, focused on the relationships between energy, social welfare, and environmental change in developing countries. He first became interested in these themes while working as a teacher in the U.S. Peace Corps in northwestern Kenya. He joined SEI-US in September 2015, after a decade as an academic researcher and university instructor.

Rob's current research focuses mainly on biomass energy, ranging from traditional energy carriers like wood and charcoal to advanced liquid biofuels. His work on household energy includes ongoing projects on improved wood-burning stove dissemination in Honduras, Kenya, and India, dynamic spatial modeling of woodfuel sustainability throughout the developing world with specific studies focusing on Kenya, Honduras, India, Haiti and Malawi, and large-scale surveys studying energy access and poverty in Kenya. His research program currently receives financial support from a variety of funders including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Overlook Foundation, the National Science Foundation, Climate and Clean Air Coalition, the World Bank, and the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves.

Rob is also interested in social impact assessment and life-cycle approaches to help understand the implications of increased reliance on bioenergy for transportation and power generation. His research has explored different dimensions of sustainability for these bioenergy applications with specific focus on oilseed crops and eucalyptus plantations in Brazil as well as forest-based bioenergy in the southern U.S.

Rob serves as on the board of advisors for EED Advisory, a small Kenyan consulting firm working on energy, water and climate change in Eastern and Southern Africa and is a review editor for EcoHealth journal. He has a B.S. in physics from Pennsylvania State University, an M.S. from Northwestern University, and a Ph.D. in energy and resources from the University of California, Berkeley. For a full list of his publications prior to joining SEI, check his profile on Google Scholar or Research Gate.


Recent Publications by Rob Bailis

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A Global Synthesis of Jatropha Cultivation: Insights into Land Use Change and Management Practices

Environ. Sci. Technol., online 10 August 2016

Author(s): Walmsley, D.C. ; Bailis, R. ; Klein, A-M
Year: 2016

Research Area(s): Bioenergy

Description: This study found most land cultivated with Jatropha in 2011 had been cleared of vegetation through unrelated logging or previously unused, and management practices were largely extensive.
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Spatiotemporal modeling of fuelwood environmental impacts: Towards improved accounting for non-renewable biomass

Environmental Modelling and Software, 82, 241 - 254

Author(s): Ghilardi, A. ; Bailis, R. ; Mas, J.-F.; Skutsch, M.; Elvir, J. A.; Quevedo, A.; Maserad, O.; Dwivedie, P.; Drigof, R.; Vegad, E.
Year: 2016

Research Area(s): Bioenergy

Description:

This article presents a new dynamic model that simulates the spatiotemporal effect of fuelwood harvesting on the landscape vegetation and accounts for savings in non-renewable woody biomass from reduced consumption.


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Supply and sustainability of carbon offsets and alternative fuels for international aviation

SEI Working Paper No. 2016-03

Author(s): Bailis, R. ; Broekhoff, D. ; Lee, C.M.
Year: 2016

Research Area(s): Emissions Trading & Offsets

Description:

This paper examines the potential supply of carbon offsets and jet fuel alternatives available to help meet the international aviation sector’s emission reduction needs in 2020–2035. The analysis shows that ICAO can apply high environmental and sustainable-development standards to both carbon offsets and alternative fuels without compromising its 2020 "carbon neutral" goal.


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A novel bioenergy feedstock in Latin America? Cultivation potential of Acrocomia aculeata under current and future climate conditions

Biomass and Bioenergy, 91, 186–195

Author(s): Platha, M. ; Bailis, R. ; Moser, C.; Brandt, P.; Hirsch, H.; Klein, A.-M.; Walmsley, D.; von Wehrden, H.
Year: 2016

Research Area(s): Bioenergy

Description:

This study applies ecological niche modelling to examine the viability of Acrocomia aculeata, a neotropical palm, for large-scale cultivation as a sustainable biomass feedstock. The results revealed a large potential to cultivate A. aculeata in Latin America under current abiotic environmental conditions, but they caution that many potential growing areas have high conservation value and that changes predicted under a "business as usual" emissions scenario would eliminate most of the suitable growing areas.


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The carbon footprint of traditional woodfuels

Nature Climate Change, 5, 266 - 272

Author(s): Bailis, R. ; Drigo, R.; Ghilardi, A.; Masera, O.
Year: 2015

Research Area(s): Bioenergy

Description:

This article presents a spatially explicit assessment of pan-tropical woodfuel supply and demand, and estimates the share of non-renewable use and related greenhouse gas emissions.


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