March is Women’s History Month, which is a good excuse to bring up the contributions of women to the industry that’s creating jobs nearly 20 times faster than the economy as a whole in the US– solar power.
From teaching workshops about solar installation to running major solar corporations, women have earned their place at the solar industry table.
Keep reading to learn about Women in Cleantech & Sustainability‘s list of the top 10 women working in solar.
1. Lynn Jurich – CEO and Co-Founder, Sunrun
As the co-founder of Sunrun, Lynn Jurich has been instrumental in making solar simpler and more affordable. Recently, Sunrun acquired REC Solar’s Residential Division, AEE Solar and SnapNrack. The acquisitions are set to transform Sunrun into a vertically integrated residential PV company, covering financing, solar sales, design, installation, distribution, and mounting systems.
2. Erica Mackie, P.E. – CEO and Co-Founder, GRID Alternatives
During the 2001 California energy crisis, Erica Mackie, a mechanical engineer, along with Tim Sears, had a vision for free, clean, solar-driven electricity that would be practical and accessible for the low-income communities that needed it the most. In this vision,GRID Alternatives, a non-profit solar installer, was formed in 2004. Looking at real-world economic challenges to solar power, GRID Alternatives takes a broader approach to solar that has helped set the stage for large-scale solar adoption worldwide.
3. Laura E. Stachel, M.D., M.P.H. – Co-Founder and executive director of WE CARE Solar
Dr. Laura Stachel’s story of how she went from unknown OB/GYN to one of CNN’s Top 10 Heros of 2013, starts in Northern Nigeria in 2008. She was studying ways to lower maternal mortality in state hospitals and was shocked at the deplorable conditions in state facilities, including sporadic electricity that impaired maternity and surgical care. Without a reliable source of electricity, nighttime deliveries were attended in near darkness, cesarean sections were cancelled or conducted by flashlight, and critically ill patients waited hours or days for life-saving procedures. The outcomes were often tragic.
Inspired into action, she founded WE CARE Solar with her husband, California solar educator Hal Aronson. Together they have designed and developed off-grid solar electric systems, called Solar Suitcases, for African hospitals, targeting the maternity wards, labor rooms, laboratories, and operating theaters. The “WE CARE Solar Suitcase” powers overhead LED lighting, charges cell phones, and includes LED headlamps that come with their own rechargeable batteries.
4. Katherine Lucey – Founder and CEO, Solar Sister
After 20 years working as an investment banker focused on the energy sector, Katherine Lucey looked toward rural east Africa where she saw the lack of access to clean energy both as an inconvenience and a massive hindrance. Forming Solar Sister, a nonprofit organization, in 2009, Lucey aimed to target the 590 million people, in particular the women, living in sub-Saharan Africa without access to electricity.
Using what’s described on their website as “an Avon-style distribution system,” Solar Sister distributes solar lamps and other clean energy products through a direct-style distribution network of women. In turn, Solar Sister provides women with the opportunity to become entrepreneurs and bring solar energy to their community.
Raina Russo dependably organizes the live bi-weeky, interactive Twitter webinar #SolarChat as a valuable virtual solar forum. Russo, Co-Founder ofEcoOutfitters.net, a solar referral service, aimed to join together solar and renewable energy industry experts with solar-curious consumers to discuss issues relevant to solar energy, solar PV, solar hot water, solar pool heating. Her goal is to make solar a reality for every home and business across the United States.
6. Julia Judd Ham – President and CEO, Solar Electric Power Association
Julia Hamm is the president and CEO of Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA), a national non-profit devoted to helping its utility members make smarter solar decisions. She has been with SEPA since 1992, when the organization was Utility Photovoltaic Group, leaving for a brief period before returning to SEPA in 2004.
7. Kristen Nicole – Founder and Executive Director, Women in Solar
In the summer of 2013, Kristen Nicole wrote an open letter to leading solar organizations condemning their nonchalant attitude towards gender equality and sexism at industry conferences, like as Solar Power International (SPI) and Intersolar North America. Her matter-of-fact, intelligent, non-emotional critic of gender politics as they play out at major solar industry events is a testament to her ability to organize and inspire the female contingent of the industry to stand in their power.
8. Claudia Wentworth – CEO, Quick Mount PV
Claudia Wentworth started working in the solar industry in 2000 after 20 years in the green building and construction industries. In 2006, Wentworth along with her husband, Stuart Wentworth, created Quick Mount PV. As CEO, Claudia Wentworth manages the strategic direction and operations needed to realize their vision of providing quality, made-in-USA roofing products across the United States and abroad.
9. Eden Full – Founder, Roseicollis Technologies and inventor of the SunSaluter
At 21 years old, Eden Full is the youngest solar innovator on our list. A junior in Mechanical Engineering at Princeton University, on the side she has transformed the solar industry through her SunSaluter. Her invention is a non-toxic, inexpensive, recyclable device made out of metal and bamboo that allows solar panels to follow or track the Sun without the use of an electric motor. The SunSaluter includes rotating solar panels that track the sun using mechanical water flow, giving users 40 percent more electricity and the bonus of clean water.
10. Bernadette Del Chiaro – Executive Director, California Solar Energy Industries Association
Bernadette Del Chiaro joined CALSEIA in 2013 after serving her tenure as the Director of Clean Energy and Global Warming Programs at Environment California. While at Environment California, Del Chiaro was the leading advocate for the Million Solar Roofs campaign, which created the nation’s largest investment in solar power in history, and also led the Clean Energy LA campaign, a successful coalition effort that aims to establish a standard for 20 percent renewable energy by 2017 at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.