A Cork resident known as the “godmother of renewables” has won a prestigious industry award in recognition of her three decades as a trailblazer of renewable energy.
Maureen De Pietro, who moved to Cork in the early 1990s, has been named the 2023 Irish Wind Industry Champion of Renewables at the fourth annual Irish Wind Awards.
The award recognises the outstanding contribution made by an individual who goes above and beyond to push the boundaries in raising awareness, inspiring others, demonstrating long-term leadership and ambition in the Irish wind industry.
Ms de Pietro has been involved in renewables for over 30 years – a lawyer by profession, her passion for climate action saw her leave her role as partner in a UK law firm in the early 90s to establish DP Energy, a renewable energy developer headquartered in Cork. The company now has projects operating worldwide, from Canada to Australia, across wind, solar, and tidal technologies.
Ms de Pietro was also a founding member of Wind Energy Ireland, originally called the Irish Wind Energy Association.
As she was presented with the award, Ms de Pietro was hailed as an early leading light in the battle against climate change.
“I think we are beginning to win the fight against climate change, but I do worry it is too late,” she said, accepting the award. “We must get more renewables; we must stop climate change. That’s what keeps me going.”
The Rebel county also featured elsewhere in the awards, with the ‘Young Person of the Year’ award won by 27-year-old Cork native Eva Linehan.
Ms Linehan was nominated by her employer, Ondine, an Irish marine and aerial survey company serving the offshore renewable energy sector The company described Ms Linehan as “a shining star for the industry” for her work in introducing innovative new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to her company’s work.
AMs Linehan, who holds a BSc in Zoology (UCC) and MSc in Computational Ecology and Evolution, said the industry needed more people to work in it, and if AI could make their jobs easier, that would help the industry.
“The jobs we are going for now didn’t exist five years ago and I imagine the job I will be working in in ten years’ time might not exist now,” Ms Linehan said.
Cork-based Green Rebel, a specialist offshore survey service, was also featured among the winners, being recognised in the ‘excellence in project delivery’ category.
Wind Energy Ireland’s Irish Wind Awards take place each year to celebrate innovators and leaders in Ireland’s fight against climate change.
As they celebrated the achievements of the industry over the past year, attendees heard calls for a national mobilisation to deliver the infrastructure and planning resources needed to meet Ireland’s climate targets.