It is with great sadness that we learnt of the death of one of our former colleagues – Bill Cowan.
Bill Cowan passed away on June 3rd after a brief battle with pancreatic cancer. He died peacefully and painlessly with his three sons by his bedside.
Colleagues and friends remember him as a man of integrity and intelligence; an immensely creative thinker who balanced elegant and relevant research with a deep commitment to helping the poor.
Bill Cowan joined Anton Eberhard in creating the Energy and Development Research Centre (EDRC – a forerunner of the ERC) at the University of Cape Town to lead a group of researchers and students in pioneering research in renewable energy applications that could ameliorate poverty and promote development. Bill was more than an academic though, he had a keen interest in promoting the practical application of research findings (like his algorithm for sizing PV systems) and developing Energy Centres in the Eastern Cape. As one of the early energy researchers in South Africa he undertook trans-disciplinary research which really focused the importance of people and context – not applying-a-one-size fits-all-approach.
Bill is remembered for his sparkling wit, intelligent humour, goodwill and his love of music.