Champions of innovation, gender equality, and sustainability recognised at SolarPower Summit Awards

At the 2021 SolarPower Summit, three awards were given to winning companies that excelled in the categories of solar innovation, gender equality, and sustainability. Winning the fourth annual Solar Startup Award was SmartHelio, while Sonnedix won the first Solar Gender Champion Award, and Akuo received the first Solar Sustainability Award.

On Day 1 of the Summit, the first-ever Solar Gender Champion Award recognised outstanding work on gender equality in the solar workplace, bringing visibility to the importance of gender balance, supporting the substantial efforts that are still needed for a more diverse workforce, and highlighting successful initiatives. The three finalists included Carol Weiss, Co-Founder of Remote Energy, a non-profit that provides training programs for women in the solar sector; Joanna Thorpe, Head of Talent Acquisition and Development, Sonnedix, which provides an internship and mentorship program, company-wide training on allyship, and generous parental leave; and Signe Antvorskov Krag, Head of Development, IKEA Clean Energy Services, where 60% of the clean energy services team are women, and where there is a 50/50 gender balance throughout the entire IKEA community.

After audience voting, Sonnedix was named the winner. Axel Thiemann, CEO of Sonnedix, commented: “We are delighted to be the recipient of the Solar Gender Champion Award. At Sonnedix, we believe in equality of opportunity, ensuring everyone knows and feels they belong, and providing everyone with the tools and freedom to contribute and shine their brightest. We are deeply committed to gender equity, and we will continue our efforts to promote more women in STEM careers and inspire the future generations to join the solar sector and contribute with its diversification.”

Day 2 of the Summit saw the award ceremony for the annual Solar Startup Award, now in its fourth edition, celebrating companies that are spearheading solar innovations. The four finalists who presented to the jury included: Govinda Upadhyay, CEO of SmartHelio, who presented the company’s real-time and automated solutions to make solar plants greener and to increase performance; Marian Breitenbücher, Managing Director of HighLine Technology, who discussed the company’s work reducing material consumption in the solar industry and increasing sustainability via their new process for the metallization of solar cells; Andrew Bollinger, CEO & Co-Founder of Sympheny, who spoke about optimising energy planning and management of sites from buildings to neighbourhoods, to entire cities; and Laurent Coulot, CEO and Co-Founder of Insolight, who presented his company that designs translucent solar modules with record-breaking efficiency, especially applicable for Agrisolar.

SmartHelio was chosen by the audience as the winner. Govinda Upadhyay, CEO of SmartHelio, said: “We are honoured to have won the Solar Startup Award for 2021. This award is a great recognition of our technology and the team. SmartHelio’s mission is to accelerate the adoption of clean energy in our society using smart technology. We need to improve the performance of existing solar plants, using advanced and affordable tech. This is where our innovation sits. We make sure solar panels are healthy and can live longer so that they can keep producing clean energy. We focus on high performance and sustainability of a solar plant.”

On the final day of the Summit, the first Solar Sustainability Award recognised companies making leading efforts towards sustainability in solar. The finalists included: Eric Scotto President of Akuo Energy, with their Agrinergie® solution, particularly well-suited to isolated areas, cyclone-prone regions, or non-grid-connected parts of the world; David Schönmayr, Program Lead, Sustainability by Design, at Fronius, the Austrian photovoltaic manufacturer, active in the fields of welding technology, photovoltaics and battery charging technology; and José Miguel Ferrer, Country Manager Spain for Statkraft, developer and operator of renewable energy assets.

After an audience vote, the winner of the Sustainability Award was Akuo. Eric Scotto, Chairman & Co-founder of Akuo, said: “Sustainability is about ensuring the entire ecosystem of a project is sustainable over the long term. Agrinergie is tackling all the elements from energy to agriculture.”

Congratulations to the winner and finalists of each award. The SolarPower Summit Awards will return in 2022.

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