Women in Wind Q&A: Swarna Priya Natarajan (India)

 

The Women in Wind Global Leadership Program sat down with Swarna, one of this year’s participants, to chat about her pathway into renewable energy and the key issues facing women in the wind sector.

How did you first become interested in renewable energy and joining the clean energy transition?

I still remember vividly that after my Grade 6 Science class on Sustainable Energy, I was left in shock when I came to know about the depletion of fossil fuels and the kind of pollution that we were causing to our own planet. That was when I decided to contribute as much as I can in creating a clean and sustainable environment and ever since that day, all my projects, technical presentations, symposiums, etc. were around renewable energy and sustainability.

Tell us about your expertise and passion in the sector. For you, what is the next “space to watch” in renewable energy?

I started my career as a Graduate Engineer Trainee in Parker Hannifin and moved on to become a Project Engineer handling projects from Enquiry-to-Order life cycle in the Automation sector catering to myriad applications like HRMs, CRMs, High Power Test Rigs, Hoists & Cranes and Grid-Tie systems. Deep down, there was a disappointment in not working on renewable energy projects full-time.

Being a clean energy enthusiast, I transitioned into the renewable energy sector by joining Vestas in the Qualification Engineering Team. As a fresher in the Wind Industry, I quickly increased my scope from screening projects to wind resource assessments and wind farm layout design for projects all over the Asia-Pacific and China regions. Currently, I am a Lead Engineer in North & Central Europe Team focusing on wind resource assessments and value engineering of projects in the DACH region, South Africa and the Benelux union. Other responsibilities include wind turbine loads analysis, commercial optimization, reviewing projects and enhancing team competencies.

There has been a lot of interesting work happening in Hybrid Solutions that integrate Wind, Solar and Energy Storage and with the advent of floating wind turbines, floating solar farms are a space to watch.

What sort of challenges  did you encounter in entering the sector? Can you tell us about an achievement wherein you overcame such a challenge?

Fortunately, I did not face issues while entering the sector and I am happy that I am part of an organization that is an equal opportunity employer. But, there sure was/is a dearth of female role models in the work force.

For example, if one wanted to look up to someone for inspiration as to how they managed to pull off the work-life balance as they progressed through the career ladder, you were left with very limited options. It was quite a struggle for me to get back on track after my maternity leave mostly plagued by self-doubt and all the lost opportunities during that phase. But, thanks to my support system at home, I worked hard like never before and could put in some extra hours and efforts to get back in form and make up for lost time.  

If you had to pick one key issue facing women in the wind power sector, what would it be and why? 

One key issue facing women in the wind power sector is the lack of women at the top which is closely linked to another key issue which is gender bias. The sad fact is that sometimes this second-generation gender bias goes unnoticed even by women which makes it harder to spot and end this issue.

One classic example is the assertiveness factor which it comes with leadership roles. Just because women naturally tend to be more compassionate and collaborative, they are perceived to be weak in leadership roles. On the contrary, I feel that it will result in a thriving work culture with improved collaboration within & across teams. At the same time, women who are ambitious and driven are perceived as bossy and compromising on family duties. 

Finally, what do you hope to achieve as a participant of Women in Wind Global Leadership Program? How will you contribute to the next generation of female leaders in the sector?

As a participant of Women in Wind, I hope to seek inspiration and learn from the vast experience of the field experts and industry leaders, and to share and connect with like-minded counterparts across the globe in creating a sustainable, inclusive, diverse and state-of-the-art energy industry.

I hope to fill the dearth of female role models in the industry by choosing to be the leader I wish I had, and inspire more women and lead by example in creating more such leaders.

Please send any reactions or thoughts on Swarna’s interview to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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#AmericanWindWeek 2019 is right around the corner, August 11-17. Are you ready? American Wind Week is a critical tool that can help support your advocacy goals while growing U.S. wind power. Now is the time to plug in and engage on American Wind Week 2019!

How #AmericanWindWeek can help

#AmericanWindWeek 2019 serves as a springboard for continued advocacy, communications, and public support for wind energy. Despite the wind power’s phenomenal growth, many Americans, even some in communities that host wind farms and factories, don’t know much about it. American Wind Week is a chance to bring the wind community together– technicians, manufacturers, those benefiting from tax and land lease payments, and many more– to engage with the community and educate lawmakers.

“American Wind Week has been an ideal excuse for rallying support and driving local support around our industry’s work,” says Adam Renz, Manager of Business Development at Pattern Energy, and one of AWEA’s first wind week partners back in 2017. “Unlike other industry “holidays American Wind Week has provided us with a tangible week of celebration and a reason to bring our communities and champions together.”

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Lawmakers, awards and events

While wind has proven to be a competitive clean energy option, it wouldn’t be the booming industry it is today without stellar support from dedicated members of the United States Congress and state and local lawmakers.

#AmericanWindWeek has been an opportunity to educate lawmakers and to highlight the leadership that has paved the way for this growing industry. Last year, over 70 lawmakers participated in #AmericanWindWeek and learned how wind is powering opportunity for their constituents.

America’s wind industry supports more than 100,000 American jobs at over 500 facilities across the country. Wind energy is an important part of America’s all-of-the-above energy future. #NewEnergyRealism #AmericanWindWeek pic.twitter.com/S9pgGzCY24

— Rick Perry (@SecretaryPerry) August 6, 2018

Jeff Danielson, AWEA’s new Central Region Director, is a former Iowa state senator, and as a former elected official, he shared what a big impact events like American Wind Week can have on lawmakers.

“As a former lawmaker, I cherished the opportunity to celebrate the successes of good public policy that opportunities like American Wind Week offer,” Jeff said. “While it’s understood that public service can be a thankless journey, it nice to pause and sing the praises of what’s working. To that end, wind power is opportunity and it works for America!”

This week is also an opportunity to highlight new wind energy customers, led by some of the world’s largest companies. Fortune 500 companies like Microsoft and AT&T have signed contracts for over 10,000 megawatts of wind energy to date, which is more than all of the wind built in Iowa, America’s number two wind state.

These companies also engaged in #AmericanWindWeek 2018 by attending events, engaging on social media using #AmericanWindWeek, and writing blogs about why wind works for their companies.

READ: As we celebrate #Americanwindweek, @Microsoft looks back at our five years of investing in #windenergy, both at home and abroad! @AWEA https://t.co/aUCceqQcoM

— Microsoft_Green (@Microsoft_Green) August 8, 2018

Social media and proclamations

In 2018 the conversation boomed on social media with 53 million #AmericanWindWeek impressions, a 67 percent increase from 2017, and a total of 30 mayors and governors also declared proclamations that August 5-11, 2018 was #AmericanWindWeek. We’re expecting even more governors and mayors to declare proclamations in 2019, so stay tuned!

Thank you AWEA members

We want to thank you for making last year’s #AmericanWindWeek a successful national week of celebration and education, as AWEA members are the backbone of this special annual event. But more importantly, we want to thank you for the hard work you’ve done every day to construct and grow this American success story. Since last year, wind energy has continued to blow past the competition and power the country. The total number of employees in the wind industry increased to 114,000, over $1 billion was paid by the industry in state and local taxes and land lease payments, and a record number of Fortune 500 companies, cities, universities and utilities purchased wind energy in an effort to reach their sustainability goals.

Looking forward to #AmericanWindWeek 2019

This year, we’re looking to expand on that success and make #AmericanWindWeek the biggest and best it’s ever been, and you can help by attending/hosting a Wind Week event, engaging on social media with #AmericanWindWeek, reaching out to your lawmakers encouraging them to engage with #AmericanWindWeek, and educating your peers about the benefits of wind energy. AWEA member engagement is vital to the success of this week, and we’re here to answer any questions you might have about how you can help and engage with others.

Send us a message if you would like to engage in American Wind Week 2019. Let’s make August 11-17 the greatest week of 2019!

Women in Wind at EU Sustainability Week 2019 

 

GWEC took part in a panel session on gender equality in the clean energy transition on Wednesday 19 June 2019, as part of a panel organized for EU Sustainability Week.

GWEC Policy and Operations Director Joyce Lee was joined by Paula Abreu Marques (center in the photo above), Head of Renewables & CCS, Directorate-General for Energy at the European Commission,  Rabia Ferroukhi (left in the photo above), Director Knowledge, Policy and Finance Centre at IRENA, Teresa Luis Ruiz (second from right in the photo above), Head of Endesa Brussels’ Office, and Chair of weclub in Brussels and Faustine Gaymard (right in the photo above), who works in public affairs at Akuo Energy.

Over the course of 80 minutes, there was a lively discussion about how the energy sector could actively support gender equality in policy development and implementation of the clean energy package. 

There was a high level of engagement from the audience, who raised challenges about how the panel was defining gender, how workplace policies often failed due to culture or faulty delivery systems, and how access to finance and technology remain key areas of high inequality.

About the Summit

 

Amongst many events at China Wind Power 2019, GWEC is proud to orgasise the firt edition of Beijing Renewable Energy Investment Summit. This inaugural Summit will be held in Beijing on 21st October 2019 – a day prior to China Wind Power, which is one of the most influential renewable energy events in the world, attracting over 65,000 attendees. 

The Summit will leverage the expansive network of the organisers to gather CEO level speakers and attendees from private and state controlled financial institutions; Chinese and international utilities, IPPs and developers; corporate renewable energy off-takers; international organisations; and, energy and technology companies.

The programme consists of high-level key note speeches from influential speakers in the energy transition universe, followed by a series of high-level panels discussion and a Gala VIP Dinner in the Evening. Each panel will be moderated by credible anchors and moderators – such as influential figures in the media.

This year summit will cover the key themes as following: 

  • Power System 2.0
  • Financing the energy transition
  • Globalising the Energy Transition

GWEC welcomes all the renewables experts, entrepreneurs, financial institutions to join this event and share their renewables energy expertise and experience with local players. Please contact Feng Zhao if you are interested in joining the summit.