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In today’s rapidly evolving world, the transition to sustainable and renewable energy sources is a pressing global priority. To achieve this transition successfully, it is crucial to identify key stakeholders, address challenges, and foster the development of new skills. This article explores the findings of our report on stakeholder mapping and best practices in renewable energy education (D2.1, “Stakeholder map and good practices”), gained by comprehensive study conducted through a mixed-methods approach, combining desk research and semi-structured interviews. From cutting-edge technological advancements to overcoming barriers and promoting sustainability principles, we delve into the key insights that pave the way for a sustainable energy future.

Research findings emphasize the importance of engaging stakeholders from different sectors in the renewable energy transition. Known as the quadruple helix, these actors include scientific communities, SMEs, NGOs, energy authorities, policy makers, and the general public. By involving diverse perspectives and expertise, collaborative efforts can be harnessed to drive innovation, policy development, and skills enhancement in the renewable energy sector.

Significant progress has been made in various renewable energy technologies, revolutionizing energy production and consumption. D2.1 highlights remarkable advancements in solar, wind, bioenergy, hydrogen, and hydro/ocean power. Examples include agrivoltaics, heterojunction technologies, airborne wind energy systems, biomass conversion processes, and water electrolysis. These technological breakthroughs pave the way for a sustainable energy future by maximizing energy generation efficiency, reducing environmental impact, and expanding renewable energy deployment.

Despite the immense potential of renewable energy, several challenges hinder its widespread adoption. Financial, social, regulatory, and ecological barriers all pose significant obstacles. Financial constraints, limited funding opportunities, and high project costs inhibit the implementation of renewable energy initiatives. Social barriers stem from misconceptions and the “not in my backyard” mentality, underscoring the need for increased awareness and public engagement. Regulatory complexities, convoluted regulations, and bureaucratic hurdles also impede progress. Moreover, ecological considerations, such as resource availability, biodiversity concerns, and ecological costs, present additional challenges. Addressing these barriers is crucial for realizing the full potential of renewable energy.

The renewable energy sector’s dynamic nature requires a continuous development of new skills, such as the highlighted need for cross-disciplinary knowledge and technical expertise in various renewable energy domains. Professionals must possess skills specific to their respective sectors, such as managing electro-chemical systems in solar energy or biogas upgrading in bioenergy. Additionally, soft skills like communication, leadership, and stakeholder management play a vital role in driving renewable energy projects’ success. Furthermore, green skills related to operational management, risk analysis, environmental impact assessment, and circular design are essential for achieving sustainability goals in the sector.

By implementing a series of 32 semi-structured interviews a persistent gender skills gap within the renewable energy and STEM sectors was revealed. Despite progress made in addressing gender inequality, several countries still face significant disparities, with fewer women pursuing careers in ICT, high-tech sectors, and STEM fields. This underrepresentation begins early, with societal prejudices and stereotypes deterring girls from STEM education and careers. To bridge the gender skills gap, it is crucial to promote STEM education at all levels, provide targeted training, and highlight successful women in the renewable energy sector. Forward-thinking companies such as Vestas, Northvolt, and Volkswagen have taken proactive steps to enhance inclusion in recruitment and training practices by considering diverse identities beyond gender.

Promoting sustainable practices and adopting a circular economy approach requires the collaboration and political support of all stakeholders. Among the key aspects in this endeavor, education and training programs in the renewable energy sector play a particularly significant role. These programs equip the workforce with essential skills and knowledge needed for transitioning to a more sustainable future. By investing in continuous learning and development, stakeholders can stay abreast of the latest innovations, bridge knowledge gaps, and acquire new skills. This holistic approach empowers stakeholders to build a proficient and knowledgeable workforce capable of addressing the challenges of the clean energy transition and ensuring a sustainable future for generations to come.

Education and training are fundamental pillars in the transition to clean energy. By prioritizing education and training programs, stakeholders can equip themselves with the necessary skills and knowledge to drive the sustainable energy agenda forward. Ou report emphasizes the need for collective action and highlights positive practices already in motion. With continued investment in education and a collaborative approach, we can pave the way for an equitable, inclusive, and successful transition to clean energy, securing a sustainable future for all.

For more information about our research activities and the respective results read the D2.1 “Stakeholder map and good practices” (currently under review), click here.