Keynote speakers at the event’s beginning emphasised the critical role renewable energy plays in combating climate change, as well as the security and affordability of energy.

Innovator Anastasia-Maria Moschovi from Greece and the KLIK energy community from Krievci, Croatia, are two of this year’s European Sustainable Energy Awards (EUSEW Awards) winners.

Women won every award given out at the ceremony, which was held as part of the European Sustainable Energy Week, for the 2023 EUSEW Awards. Keynote speakers at the event’s beginning emphasised the critical role renewable energy plays in combating climate change, as well as the security and affordability of energy.

At the yearly European Sustainable Energy Awards (EUSEW Awards) competition, entries from Southeastern Europe were the most successful for the second year in a row, after they previously won two of the four prizes.

Balkan Green Energy News supported the two representatives from our region, and they each received one of the three EUSEW Awards given by the European Union to changemakers who have taken audacious steps towards achieving energy and climate goals.

Greece’s Anastasia-Maria Moschovi, a chemical engineer and energy pioneer, won the public vote to be named the Woman in Energy for 2023. The Local Energy Action award went to Krievci Laboratory for Innovation in Climate (KLIK), an energy community in northern Croatia.

Alqueva was given the EUSEW Innovation Award, which is given to exceptional ongoing or recently finished projects funded by the European Union that demonstrate a unique and innovative path towards a clean energy transition. It is a hybrid power plant made up of a floating solar power plant in Portugal, an old hydroelectric facility, and a battery storage system.

The jury also named Livia Kalosakka, an Italian-Greek chemist and environmental activist from the EUSEW Young Energy Ambassadors organisation, as its first Young Energy Champion. This time, women were given the four awards, which went to both individuals and organisations.

Keynote speakers at the opening of the European Sustainable Energy Week in Brussels emphasised the importance of renewable energy in combating climate change as well as ensuring energy security and affordability. “Accelerating the clean energy transition – towards lower bills and greater skills” is the theme for this year. Long-term clean and affordable energy security is the aim, according to them.

The biggest energy crisis in a generation was present at last year’s EUSEW, according to European Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson. “We were all concerned about the upcoming winter, bills and gas supplies. However, low-income households were the ones who were most impacted. We are now in a better position after 10 months. Although cautious optimism prevails, we are still not out of the woods, she said.

The commissioner emphasised that 45% more wind and solar power capacity was newly installed in the EU in 2018 than in 2021. According to Simson, electricity from renewable sources helped save Europeans 180 billion euros between 2021 and 2023.

One of the crucial areas in the transition to clean energy is training, upskilling, reskilling, and attracting new talent, she emphasised. Despite the fact that the sector of renewable energy employs 1.5 million people and is expanding, Simson cautioned that there is a shortage of skilled workers needed to meet the targets.

The EU has agreed on a binding target to double the share of renewable energy in buildings to over 42% in just seven years, according to Sweden’s Minister for Energy, Business, and Industry Ebba Busch. She informed the audience that the 27-member bloc now aims to reduce its final energy consumption by nearly 12% more than what was anticipated in 2020 by 2030.

Francesco La Camera, Director-General of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), stated that in order to achieve climate goals, the world must triple its electricity production by 2030, across all regions, technologies, and uses, such as transportation, industry, and heating.

He claimed that the present course is not consistent with the required efforts. To be able to utilise the energy potential at the Baltic Sea and North Sea, La Camera urged decision-makers to improve collaboration and interconnectivity.

According to the jury, Anastasia Moschovi has demonstrated exceptional leadership qualities and a commitment to advancing gender equality in the energy industry. She is the director of R&D and innovation at Monolithos, an Athens-based business.

She oversees a number of EU-funded projects that are focused on the creation of cutting-edge technologies for the production and storage of green energy, electric vehicles, and industrial decarbonization.

We had the opportunity to discover new partners, new technologies, and new opportunities by introducing our technologies… It is now time to take action and turn all of this knowledge and research into new services and goods, according to Moschovi. In order to reduce the price of new devices, her team recovers valuable materials.

KLIK received recognition for its outstanding efforts in transforming its neighbourhood through the use of sustainable energy sources. The cooperative encourages Krievci residents to invest in renewable energy sources and assists them in the development of climate and energy projects.

The use of local energy is crucial. In comparison to politics, we are frequently more ambitious and prepared, Cooperative Manager Sanela Mikuli Anti said during the ceremony.

The KLIK energy cooperative’s representative in receiving the Local Energy Action Award was Sanela Mikulianti.

As a representative of the Alqueva project, Joana Freitas from the Executive Board of EDP Generation received the EUSEW Innovation Award. According to her, solar panels placed atop reservoirs help to cut water evaporation by 60%. Freitas emphasised that the floaters were made with cork obtained from the neighbourhood cork oaks.