EQUAL ACCESS AND LEADERSHIP TO DRIVE TRANSITION TO INCREASED RENEWABLES
As reported in the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) World Energy Transition Outlook 2022, the renewable energy sector will provide over 38 million jobs, with an addition 74.2 million in energy transition related sectors. However, despite the significance of the sector’s employment influence, gender gaps persist across the globe, with South Africa being no exception.
“If our country is to join the global energy transition to keep the 1.5 degree climate target within reach, as well as meet our energy needs, annual renewable energy generation will need to grow exponentially – and for this to happen we will need to actively accelerate the access to this industry for women as well as promote career development to drive our sector’s gender equality in leadership roles,” says Mercia Grimbeek, Head of Project Development at ENERTRAG South Africa and former Chair of the South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA).
Grimbeek has spent more than a decade in energy related sectors as a driver of transformation and growth, as well as a supporter of the power of collective thinking. Along with many of her counterparts in South Africa’s renewable energy industry, she also supports the industry’s Gender Diversity Charter, which is a vital component of the South African Energy Transformation agenda. Without this crucial element, there cannot be a meaningful transition, considering that this sector remains one of the least gender diverse, especially at decision-making level.
However, although women continue to be significantly under-represented in this sector, especially in STEM jobs, compared to administrative positions, a handful of organisations are making significant strides. ENERTRAG South Africa, for one, has equal gender representation in their leadership portfolio and is just shy of a 50/50 gender split throughout all levels within their local South African team.
Having participated in the ‘GWEC Women In Wind Global Leadership’ initiative, which Grimbeek describes as being instrumental in her career development as the exposure allowed her, within a very short space of time, access to a plethora of strong, confident women who were not only in senior roles but shared knowledge and most importantly experiences.
“Having been part of the inaugural ‘Women in Wind Global Leadership Programme’ in 2019 I have had the opportunities and good fortune to be in the position to petition for gender equality in the energy sector, and believe in the value of mentorship and the role it plays in growing leaders,” concluded Grimbeek.
As reported in GreenCape’s 2022 Utility-scale Renewable Energy Market Intelligence Report: By 2030, it is estimated that some 14 million solar panels and 3 600 wind turbines would be required to fulfil the 2019 Integrated Resource Plan, contributing R141-164 billion per year to GDP, employing 32 500 to 35 000 people across the value chain. To deliver and reach its full potential, the vast opportunities that the renewable industry offers across the diverse skill sets, should be equally accessible.
ENERTRAG South Africa was established as a subsidiary of ENERTRAG SE, the German-based renewable energy company, in 2017. The company is a renewable energy development company, inclusive of wind and solar PV, in addition to green hydrogen and other technologies.