GWNET brings you the 15th instalment of the “Meet the Women in the Energy Transition” series which celebrates the work and achievements of the women who are part of GWNET’s 2/2019 Mentoring Programme. This mentoring programme contains 22 mentee-mentor tandems, with mentees from over 15 countries. Meet GWNET mentor, Magdalena Teufner-Kabas. Magdalena started her professional career at the Austrian Institute of Technology (AIT) where she worked on optimisation of CO2 conversion processes (CO2 to chemicals). In 2015 she founded kleinkraft, an engineering office for energy efficiency and renewable energy where technical solutions are combined with public funding applications.
1) Tell us a little about yourself. What do you love most about what you do?
I am driven by process optimisation, especially for our customer’s industrial processes and our own technology developments. I really love my work, it is challenging and full of new projects and solutions. As kleinkraft is a young engineering office, we have a strong focus on service. Therefore, I have developed a distinct hands-on mentality and I love to work very closely with our customers (who are mainly from the manufacturing industry) in realising existing projects and developing new ones.
Our focus is on the utilisation of renewable energy and the implementation of energy efficiency measures, reducing energy costs and enhancing planning security. As these measures contribute to fighting the climate crisis, there are attractive public funds which we help our customers get. We also help to communicate these measures as role models for other companies.
2) What were your goals when you started working in sustainable energy? Have these evolved?
When I started my professional career, I was convinced that I would change the world – move it towards a more sustainable future. I still keep this in mind in my daily work but I have realised that it comes with big challenges. Technological solutions with proven economic benefits are already available and are just waiting for implementation, but it seems that a huge part of transforming the energy market is convincing people about this reality. If you can overcome this initial scepticism and can show results from energy savings or from public funding, you can literally see how people start to think about more and more approaches to reduce their environmental impact.
Beside this direct approach with customers, the political and legal framework is sometimes frustrating, as the areas of energy efficiency and renewable energy hold significant potential for economic growth. Companies that have already made this change have considerable advantages over their competitors, through lower production costs, enhanced planning security or public relations. This is going to be even more important on a national and international scale considering future legal regulations and a potential CO2 price and/or market.
Klimaaktiv-konfernz Teufner Kabas: photographer: Andrea Leindl
3) What are the opportunities for sustainable energy growth in your country?
In Austria, 70% of electricity production is already based on renewable energy, mainly due to our highly developed hydropower industry. However, for decades political decision makers have thought that this is enough and have stopped working on improving the situation. 30% additional renewable electricity production seems to be easily achievable, especially if you compare our situation to other countries with less favourable conditions for renewable energy generation. While it is a huge challenge, it is also an opportunity for us to demonstrate, as one of the first countries, how a 100% renewable electricity market could work. The generated knowledge and technologies would strengthen Austria’s role as a Green Tech leader.
Nevertheless, energy is not only about electricity and when it comes to heat and especially mobility, fossil fuels are still dominant. For the heating sector, existing biomass solutions for the industry as well as the development of more efficient industrial heat pumps which utilise electricity for heat production are promising solutions. I think, besides focusing on developing new approaches for the mobility sector, the initial goal should be expanding the public transport system.
4) What challenges have you faced in the sector? Can you tell us how you overcame (or are overcoming) these challenges?
Everybody can produce or store energy. At the same time the energy sector is a very traditional sector which is used to being centrally supplied and controlled. This is changing now. Together we are making a difference and transforming our energy system into a decentralised and sustainable system. Although this transformation favours economic development, some companies and energy suppliers try to hold on to old business models and structures. Successful companies invest in process optimsation, energy efficiency and renewable energy. However, there are still some business people making questionable investment decisions.
5) Why did you join the GWNET Mentorship Programme? What do you hope to achieve?
My initial professional years were not easy, neither was the process of starting my own business. Retrospectively, it helped to discuss business approaches as well as private developments with people who were in a comparable situation.
But a mentorship programme is not a one-way street. I love the regular exchange with my mentee, learning about developments in her professional field, and about different technological, business and political approaches. For me it is very motivating to see professional women all around the world working together on our sustainable future.
6) What advice would you give to women hoping to join the sustainable energy sector?
Go for it and believe in yourself. It is worth it 🙂
Featured Image Credits: Teufner kleinkraft: © BMVIT/create-mediadesign GmbH
If you are interested in knowing more about GWNET’s mentoring programmes, this comprehensive article outlines our work in this area.
Become a mentor – what’s in it for you?
GWNET is looking for senior professionals who are eager to make a difference and have a positive impact on a younger woman’s career in the energy sector. With the ever-changing dynamics of the business fields, digitalisation, knowledge and knowledge sharing has become more important than ever. As a mentor, you get the opportunity to give something valuable back to more junior professionals and to expand your own knowledge through your mentees’ perspective. Mentoring will contribute to personal and professional development for both you and your mentee, as well as, shaping the direction of future generations within your field of expertise.
If you are interested in volunteering as a mentor in one of GWNET’s mentoring programmes (which involves approx. 1 – 1.5 hours of engagement per month plus optional participation in knowledge-transfer webinars), kindly fill-in the Mentor Datasheet.