Kenyan renewable energy expert Wangari Muchiri wins GWEC revolutionary award

BELGIUMKenya based renewable energy planning expert  Wangari Muchiri, who specializes in technology innovation for off-grid and peri-urban communities, has been selected as the inaugural winner by a Jury representing Global Wind Energy Council (WGEC), REN21 (global renewable energy community of actors from science, governments, NGOs, and industry), Greenpeace and family of Steve Sawyer, a pioneer of the global energy transition.

Wangari was chosen from a competitive pool of applicants spanning public and private sector, civil society, and a range of renewable energy solutions with most applicants based in South Africa, Uganda, Kenya and Ghana.

Highlighting the shared values between Sawyer and Muchiri, Ben Backwell, CEO of GWEC, said: “Throughout his career, Steve Sawyer was passionate about championing the work of young innovators to accelerate the clean energy revolution. With her outstanding profile, expertise and passion for advancing the role of renewables in Africa, Wangari upholds the five key pillars of the award which were themes of Steve’s work and mission: leadership, renewable energy, innovation, scalability and diversity.

“On behalf of the founding partners of the award – GWEC, Greenpeace and REN21 – we are pleased to announce Wangari as the winner of this first edition and excited to support her career development in clean energy.”

Wangari will receive the award during the 10th Annual Windaba Conference in South Africa which will take place virtually on 26-27 October 2020.

 She will receive a comprehensive prize package that emphasises investment, study and thought leadership including a monetary prize, a platform at a regional clean energy event as well as other opportunities to promote her thought leadership to a global network of professionals in the global renewables industry.

Wangari, who sits on the board of the Kenya Green Building Society where she leads the technical committee overseeing sustainability practices in the real estate sector said  “I am deeply humbled and honoured to be selected as the recipient of the inaugural “REvolutionaries: The Steve Sawyer Memorial Award. My dream is to see Africa become fully energy independent and leapfrog traditional energy sources to a sustainable, innovative, and renewable energy future. Through this platform, I hope to reflect some of Steve Sawyer’s leadership qualities and demonstrate that there are indeed innovative, scalable, diverse and technology savvy projects on the continent”.

“Thank you to the distinguished judging panel, GWEC team, Greenpeace team and REN21 team for selecting me” she added.

Kelly Rigg, Steve Sawyer’s wife and director of the Varda Group environmental consultancy, commented: “Steve would have been so pleased to see an award in his name be given to a woman with the kind of talent Wangari has demonstrated so early in her career. He would have especially loved that – like him – her passion for renewables is grounded in a strong technical background and understanding of how these technologies work in practice.”

Rigg continued: “While all the award finalists were impressive, the jury was unanimous in its opinion that she would be a powerful and effective ambassador for clean energy leadership in Africa. We look forward to watching her accomplishments in the years to come.”

The first edition of the award focused on clean energy leaders in Africa with candidates working in or targeting their work in the public sector, private sector or civil society in one or several countries.

The award was determined by a Jury focusing on five key criteria: leadership, renewable energy, innovation, scalability, and diversity.

He contributed significantly to the development of the wind industry in places such as India, China, Brazil and South Africa.

 He later became a Senior Policy Advisor to GWEC. Sawyer passed away in July 2019.

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