• Farah Al Jallad

Half the Sun Scholarship Could Diversify and Expand the Solar Industry

Women are highly underrepresented in the solar industry. According to a report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), women represent roughly 28% of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) positions in the solar sector worldwide. This disparity is primarily due to a lack of networking opportunities and training for women.



women solar training
NX team visit to Casa don Pedro with EPC customer, Sunco, Spain. Credit: Nextracker

In an effort to close the gender gap, Nextracker and Solar Energy International (SEI) have partnered to release a scholarship to encourage more women to enter the solar industry. The scholarship, called Half the Sun, was named after Pulitzer Prize winners Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn's book, Half the Sky. The book is about the idea of turning the challenges women face around the world into opportunities.


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Half the Sun is intended to increase female and non-binary involvement in the solar energy workforce to 50%. The scholarship is a need-based initiative to address the lack of gender diversity in the solar sector by expanding accessibility and supporting the next generation of female and non-binary solar experts. It will pay the cost of professional training for students interested in pursuing a STEM degree. The worldwide renewable workforce anticipates expanding by about 30 million workers by 2030 as more significant climate efforts become a priority. Half the Sun has the potential to help mold this workforce with a more inclusive range of individuals.

The program, offered in English and Spanish, provides ten students with a full scholarship for a six-week SEI solar training course. The scholarship will be available in five regions: Europe, America, the MEIAT region (Middle East Africa, India, and Turkey), Australia, Asia Pacific, and Latin America. Each region will receive two grants each and is only available to women and non-binary individuals who have earned a degree in the STEM field.

To guarantee career continuity, the Half the Sun scholarship awardees will have access to regional members of the Nextracker Women's Network, gaining networking opportunities and one-on-one mentorship. The recipients will also have access to Nextracker's established professional network, which can assist individuals in finding jobs in the solar sector and be provided a forum to discuss everyday workplace experiences, such as gender disparities and the difficulties of being a working parent.

"With a 30-year history of providing solar educational courses and training, award recipients can expect to learn photovoltaic basics and lay a strong foundation for a career in photovoltaics," said Elizabeth Sanderson, SEI Executive Director. "We look forward to supporting Nextracker's diversity, equity, and inclusion goals by offering cutting-edge, world-class solar educational training to the next generation solar workforce. These corporate partnerships, such as the Nextracker Half the Sun Scholarship, help the industry at large be as diverse, innovative, and prosperous as possible."

Nextracker is a pioneer in the shift to renewable energy. It delivers essential, yield-enhancing PV system technology, experience, and strategic services to improve solar plant efficiency. SEI offers hands-on expertise along with solar training to expand its workforce at a rate that will strongly affect climate change. They provide the skillset to operate large-scale solar farms and aid individuals in gaining access to clean, dependable energy.


 

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