Renewable energy has exhibited resilience, compared to other parts of the energy sector despite the impact of COVID-19, and women will see increased opportunities as the sector sees a digital transformation, guests of the inaugural session of the WiSER Wisdom Series webinar heard last week.
Organized by the Women in Sustainability, Environment and Renewable Energy (WiSER), one of Masdar’s strategic outreach platforms, the newly launched webinar, knowledge-sharing series features speakers from around the world.
The first session, attended by industry professionals, thought leaders and youth, featured guest speaker Michael Liebreich, Chairman and CEO of Liebreich Associates, and WISER Advisory Council member, and was moderated by Zainab Al Ali, Head, Stakeholder Relations and Outreach, Masdar.
The dynamic conversation explored the current state of the energy sector, and the role that women entrepreneurs will play in the sustainable recovery from COVID-19.
Speaking on how COVID-19 has impacted the sector, Liebreich explained that the availability and cost-effectiveness of renewables has allowed the industry to stay resilient despite the global challenges posed by the pandemic:
“In the energy sector in particular, as energy demand plummeted, we saw renewable energy holding up much better, not just in the volume of energy, but also in investment. That’s partly because renewable energy, including solar, wind and hydro has no variable or fuel cost. In a situation where demand is repressed, these resources will tend to remain on, while gas, fuel or diesel will be shut down due to constant costs needed to keep them running.”
This resilience is what Liebreich believes will be the onus for a sustainable recovery, one that needs to engage women, who make up nearly half of the world’s total population, and nearly 22 percent of the workforce in the energy sector.
Liebreich noted that as the renewables industry becomes more reliant on technology and digitalization, job opportunities for women, as well as women entrepreneurs, are becoming more accessible:
“Within the clean energy sector, some of the existing biases about women tend to disappear, as compared to more traditional parts of the sector. Today, things have changed enormously in the sector because of the nature of the technology and, of course, digitalization. Going forward, we will see more digital control, software, services. So if you are optimizing the location or management of wind turbines, or electric vehicles being charged across your network, and you are doing that using artificial intelligence or machine learning, that is not gendered work in any way.”
“The range of different sectors in the value chain is also opening up enormously. If you define the energy and transition sector broadly, there will be opportunities. For example, recruiting engineers using machine learning, that is absolutely an entrepreneurship opportunity for women, and proves that you don’t need to be on the ground to be an entrepreneur in the energy industry.”
To watch the full recording of the session, click here.