Published on November 21st, 2016 | by The Beam0
The Beam Interview Series: Murielle Diaco (Djouman) & Antonella Battaglini (Renewables Grid Initiative)
November 21st, 2016 by The Beam
By Anne-Sophie Garrigou for The Beam
Welcome to our new CleanTechnica – The Beam interview series, edition 1.
To lighten up your day and give you some inspirational thoughts, we are publishing two interviews from our partner The Beam.
The Beam takes a modern perspective at the energy transition, interviewing inspirational people from around the world that shape our sustainable energy future.
Anne-Sophie Garrigou, journalist at The Beam, meets two women promoting renewable energy in two different ways.
- In Paris, Murielle Diaco founded Djouman, a platform that aims to promote collaboration and innovation for sustainability in Africa.
- In Berlin, Antonella Battaglini is the founder and CEO of Renewables Grid Initiative (RGI), an initiative that works together with NGOs and TSOs to produce a sustainable electricity future.
In the interviews both women provide their individual perspective on the energy transition.
After graduating from ENSIMAG, the leading French engineering school specializing in Applied Maths and Computer Science, and working in the investment banking industry for more than six years, Murielle Diaco decided to make a career change.
“The 2008 financial crisis was an eye-opener for me. All the practices that are leading us towards environment destruction and climate change acceleration; towards unbalanced relationships between Western countries and less developed ones; towards more inequalities within society… I just realized we all needed to make a change in the way we consume, produce and live regardless of the country we are living in.”
Murielle naturally progressed her focus on sustainability, in particular in Africa, and shortly after launched Djouman, a tool to promote collaboration and innovation for sustainability in Africa. We asked all about Djouman and her hopes for the development of cleantech and renewable energy in Africa in the future.
The Beam: How did the Djouman adventure begin?
Murielle Diaco: I wanted contribute to making the world in general, and Africa in particular, more sustainable. Given the low level of development of most African countries, I strongly believe that they have the opportunity of choosing a way of development which is clean, respectful of the environment and profitable to the population.
In sub-saharan Africa, the projects which have the biggest impact, those that are really changing the everyday lives of people, are those undertaken by entrepreneurs and startups who really understand the most pressing needs and challenges of their communities. Startups are, for instance, making innovations to improve access to electricity, to drinkable water, to health and education services.
This is how Djouman started, from the desire to bring together different forces to create a real sustainable development movement in Africa. Djouman means working together in Ebrie, my native language (I come from the Ivory Coast). Concretely, our goal at Djouman is to support the entrepreneurs and young innovative companies who are working on sustainable technologies, products and services that can dramatically improve the development of African countries.
As founder and CEO of Renewables Grid Initiative (RGI), Antonella Battaglini combines her experience as a scientist with her knowledge as a social entrepreneur to create an innovative solution aimed at producing a sustainable electricity future. Antonella was named one of Tällberg’s 2015 five Global Leaders for her commitment to a sustainable energy future, and in addition to RGI’s activities, she is one of the expert members of the Global Agenda Council on the Future of Electricity of the World Economic Forum (WEF).
We had the chance to speak with Antonella about the RGI’s work promoting sustainable growth and grid infrastructure, and her view on the future of renewable energy development.
The Beam: How did the Renewables Grid Initiative (RGI) begin?
Antonella Battaglini: The 2008 agreement upon the 2020 climate and energy targets made very clear that a major transformation of the power sector was needed to achieve the reduction of C02 emissions. A steady increase in the share of renewable energy sources and the expansion of electricity infrastructure to support their integration would be necessary to reach the set targets. The combination of these circumstances made the development of new electricity infrastructure more desirable to some environmental groups than it used to be and suddenly created joint interests between NGOs and transmission system operators (TSOs). These similar interests made it quite logical that these two traditionally opposing groups would someday work together. And in 2009, a huge window of opportunity for a joint TSO-NGO platform opened when the EU’s Third Energy Package entered into force. Hereafter, company ownership of generation sites and transmission networks were required to be unbundled and TSOs became more independent actors that were now presented with an opportunity to reinvent themselves. At this point in time, we decided to found RGI.
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