7 lessons learned from women in the driver’s seat of the energy transition

Special from depsys

From left, Kadri Simson, Dr Ana Trbovich, Audrey Desiderato, Jennifer M Granholm, Damilola Asayele, Katherine Lucey, Dr Irene Giner-Reichl (illustration: depsys)
From left, Kadri Simson, Dr Ana Trbovich, Audrey Desiderato, Jennifer M Granholm, Damilola Asayele, Katherine Lucey, Dr Irene Giner-Reichl (illustration: depsys)

We’re living in the middle of an energy revolution. The Energy sector needs to do more than play a supporting role if we want to make progress in widely adopting renewable energy; it needs to drive the energy transition. What happens when women are in the driving seat of the energy revolution?

We’re curious to learn from women who we admire who are powering the energy transition. What leadership qualities do they exhibit? And how can we embrace these leadership traits to accelerate the energy transition no matter what our gender?

To celebrate International Women’s Day, we zoom in on seven leadership lessons learned from inspiring women powering the energy transition.

Seven leadership traits that drive the energy revolution with success:

  • S – Stubborn optimism – Kadri Simson (Estonia)
  • U – Urge to learn – Dr Ana Trbovich (Germany)
  • C – Co-creating the future of energy – Audrey Desiderato (Kenya)
  • C – Collaboration – Jennifer M Granholm (USA)
  • E – Empowering Others – Damilola Asaleye (Nigeria)
  • S – Sustainable Sisterhood – Katherine Lucey (USA)
  • S – Sponsoring Women in Sustainable Development – Dr Irene Giner-Reichl (Austria)

S – Stubborn optimism
One mindset that’s powering the energy transition is optimism. Or as Christiana Figueres, the Paris Agreement’s negotiator and author of “The Future We Choose” puts it, stubborn optimism.

“Impossible is not a fact; it’s an attitude. If any task is important enough, there can never be a barrier high enough to stop us from achieving that task. With radical collaboration and stubborn optimism, everything that is important is possible,” says Figueres.

Kadri Simson, the European Commissioner for Energy, demonstrates stubborn optimism. Despite the pandemic, Simson remains optimistic about Europe’s recovery to align with the EU Green Deal. She says Europe is making progress in adopting renewable energy.

To phase out fossil fuels, Simson believes in the 3Ds: Decarbonisation, Decentralisation of energy production and storage, and Digitalisation using digital tools to increase energy efficiency. There is no victory in the energy transition without stubborn optimism and the 3Ds. Decarbonisation. Decentralisation. Digitalisation.

U – Urge to learn
Dr Ana Trbovich is the COO and co-founder of Grid Singularity. They believe in creating a smart, transactive grid of the future by placing the individual and environment in the energy market centre and building the global energy blockchain platform. Dr Trbovich’s mindset driving change in the energy transition is all about staying curious, committed, and perseverant.

She believes that: “We already have everything that we need to be a success […] all the rest of it is just part of our journey, of learning how to be better and learning how to grow. But we’ve already got what it takes.”

C – Co-creating the future of energy
Audrey Desiderato, CCO and Co-Founder of SunFunder, acts as a financing bridge between investors and those needing funding to scale solar and storage solutions. Desiderato collaborates with debt fund investors worldwide to supply capital for solar energy projects. So far, SunFunder has impacted more than 7 million people with improved access to clean energy by financing more than 46 solar companies. A smart way to co-create the future of energy by bridging the gap between finance and solar. Could Desiderato be another woman worthy of the Solar Queen title?

C- Collaboration
After being sworn in by the Vice President of the United States of America, Jennifer M Granholm now leads the Department of Energy as the Secretary of Energy. Her mission is to kickstart America’s clean energy revolution. How? By collaborating with the best scientists, engineers, energy policy experts to develop and deploy new clean energy technologies that will achieve the Administration’s goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

E – Empowering others
Damilola Asaleye, aka the Solar Queen, became passionate about alternative energy and eradicating Nigeria’s dependence on fossil fuels after losing a family member in a petrol explosion. Since she has an impressive track record empowering others and the future of renewables. From founding the Ashdam Solar Initiative to Green Tech Girls summer boot camps, Solar Queen Technical Scholarship Programs – she has empowered more than 1,500 girls and women in green technologies and is recognised as one of the foremost women in Renewable Energy in Nigeria by Environment Magazinein 2017 and was awarded Professional of the year in 2018 by Nigeria Energy Awards. Asayele’s passion, purpose, and perseverance drive the energy transition by empowering others to eradicate Nigeria’s dependence on fossil fuels.

S – Sustainable Sisterhood
Katherine Lucey is the CEO and Founder of Solar Sister. We picked Lucey because she believes that women play a crucial role in solving the clean energy challenge and invests in women’s enterprise in off-grid communities. The vision of Solar Sister is a brighter world powered by solar “womenpreneurs”.

And to achieve this vision, Solar Sister provides essential services and training that enable women entrepreneurs to build sustainable businesses in African communities. Now that’s sisters doing it for themselves!

S – Sponsoring women in sustainable development
Dr Irene Giner-Reichl is the President of the Global Forum for Sustainable Energy (GSFE); Vice-President of the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21); and currently the Austrian Ambassador to Brazil and Suriname.

GSFE was founded in 1999 by Dr Giner-Reichl as a multi-stakeholder platform to encourage dialogues on energy in the service of sustainable development. One of Dr Giner-Reichl’s many strengths is to bring together large, complex topics in a simple way and generate interest. She is also a firm believer in how women can play a vital role in powering the green transition because “a higher percentage of women in decision-making positions increases innovation and profitability, decreases risk and enhances sustainability practices.”

What these women are achieving is highly inspiring. They are working relentlessly on making our lives better while also improving the sustainability of our planet. We celebrate these seven women, alongside all the others who play their active part in the energy transition, on International Women’s Day 2021.

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