The scholarship will cover fees and living expenses for a two year period at a South African university, with additional funding for equipment, field work and research related travel.

The DBREV Trust, formed in memory of the late Dr Doug Banks, intends to award the scholarship on an annual basis to a young graduate who exhibits not only strong academic ability, but a passion for realising the potential of renewable energy in meeting Africa's energy needs. By stimulating the intellectual capital in the local Renewable Energy sector, the DBREV Trust hopes to perpetuate the vision of Dr Banks for greater use of appropriate and sustainable energy supplies, particularly in rural areas.

“The thing that really excites me about this is that it’s not just about funding someone’s studies, but that it’s about them being mentored, about them catching the dream, about them seeing how other people are already involved in this area and learning from them. I think that that makes this a really special scholarship” Coppez enthuses. Dave Gale, chairman of the DBREV Trust confirms this; “a diverse group of renewable energy experts, some of whom knew Doug well, have committed themselves to make time available to give guidance and encouragement to the recipient.” Many of the nearly 30 applicants stated that it was this in particular which drew them to the scholarship.

Coppez (24) graduated with honours from UCT in 2006 with a BSc (Mechatronics). She has been employed since then as an Automation and Instrumentation Engineer with Marine and Mineral Projects in Cape Town. Through her community work with The Warehouse, a Cape Town based non-profit organisation and outreach work in Rwanda, Ms Coppez came to see the potential for renewable energy to impact on the lives of the disadvantaged in Africa.

“We are confident that in Gabrielle, we have found someone who will pick up the torch that Doug carried and carry the flame. The selection panel were impressed by the quality of the applicants. “The contest between the final shortlist was tight”, reports Gale, “but it was Gabrielle's track record with community work, her empathy for rural Africa and her willingness to in turn mentor others that clinched it for her”.

Ms Coppez will be registering for a thesis based MSc at UCT. She intends developing a modelling tool to assist in determining the most appropriate mix of renewable energy solutions in any given rural area. She will be expected to publish the results of her work during the course of her studies, and participate in the annual Doug Banks Memorial lecture, as well as being involved in relevant projects which will enhance and support her research.

The DBREV mentorship programme has yet to be finalised, with the Trust exploring various options for developing and expanding this resource. To date, funds have been donated by private individuals, the Centre for Renewable and Sustainable Energy Studies (CRSES), the Anglo American Chairman's fund, E+Co, Restio Energy, SetSolar and Kraftwork. Anyone wishing to contribute through mentorship or funding should contact the Trust through their website (


The Doug Banks Renewable Energy Vision Trust was formed in 2008 after the death of Dr Doug Banks, engineer, scientist and a remarkable figure in the South African renewable energy community. A particular passion of Doug's was the recruitment and mentorship of bright young engineers in the field of Renewable Energy. Doug's friends and colleagues set about creating a living memorial to perpetuate his passion and vision through stimulating and nurturing the intellectual capital in the renewable energy sector. The purpose of the Trust is to raise and manage funds to support at least one postgraduate student each year from fields such as engineering, accounting and economics or the life sciences to study towards a Masters or PhD in Renewable Energy.

DBREV Contacts

Dave Gale – Chair: DBREV Board of Trustees
dave at
+27 82 467 2400