ELBIA GANNOUM, CEO AT ABBEÓLICA BRAZIL
Elbia Gannoum #SheLeadsTheChange
- What is your project about and what do you love about it?
I have been President of the Brazilian Association of Wind Energy for ten years. The center of my work, therefore, is to defend the wind source and act for its growth in the the Brazilian energy matrix. When I arrived at ABEEólica, Brazil had less than 1GW of installed wind energy capacity and now we are close to completing 20 GW, something that will happen later this year. When I look at these numbers, I feel very privileged, because I love my job, I know that I am defending something that is fundamental for the future of the planet. I believe this is my main source of pleasure with my work: I know that we are doing something to leave a better planet for future generations and this gives me energy daily to continue defending the wind source, which, by the way, is already the second source of electricity generation in Brazil.
- How does it contribute to improve the environment?
The energy produced by the wind is renewable; does not pollute; it has very low environmental impact; contributes to Brazil complying with the Climate Agreement; does not emit CO2 in its operation; has one of the best cost benefits in the energy cost; it allows the owners of land where the wind turbines are located to have other activities on the same land; generates income through the payment of leases; promotes the fixation of man in the countryside with sustainable development; it generates jobs from the factory to the most remote regions where the wind farms are located and encourages tourism by promoting regional development.
I would also like to emphasize that ABEEólica published, last year, the study “Socioeconomic and Environmental Impacts of Wind Energy Generation in Brazil”, carried out by GO Associados consultancy, which quantifies the already known positive impacts of wind energy. The work analyzes, for example, the multiplier effects of investments made by companies, as well as the impact of payment for landowners for the placement of wind turbines. The study also made a comparison between a group of municipalities that received wind farms and another that does not have wind energy, to assess the impact of the arrival of the wind farms on the Human Development Index – IDHM and on the municipal GDP. Regarding IDHM and Municipal GDP, municipalities that have wind farms had a 20.19% and 21.15% better performance, respectively, for these two indicators. This is a result that shows that there is no doubt: wind energy arrives, and its positive multiplier effects impact the municipality’s indicators.
- What other women have inspired you in your career?
First of all, my mother, a very determined and resilient woman, who is my main role model to this day without any doubts. Then, over the years, I found other women on my professional path and many of them became inspirational. Today I am also inspired, and a lot, by young women who come to the sector full of new ideas, who want to build new relationship networks to help other women. And it is through this energy that we are making a difference. It was even from this network of relationships that a personal project emerged, which I will launch with two friends, the “Energia da Transformação” (Transformation Energy) platform. The objective of the platform, which will be collective, is to bring together initiatives aimed at transforming the economic and social reality, through the renewable energy sector, boosting economic and social inclusion, in a context in which the decarbonization of economies, the energy transition and the ESG have guided the decisions of public and private agents in Brazil and worldwide. Sharing, inspiring and driving initiatives and actions for diversity and inclusion in the energy sector is our duty and will be our commitment on this platform.
- What challenges have you faced in your entrepreneurial journey that could help others?
Looking at my life story, I believe my main challenge was having entered positions of great responsibility at a very young age and, above all, being an economist entering the energy field, something quite unusual for about twenty years ago. We live today in a very different world in which the “boxes” are no longer so rigid, but at that time an economist among electrical sector engineers was something quite unusual and I was still a woman in a male-dominated environment. I mention this as a great challenge, but I must comment on the following: the challenges never stopped, some smaller, some bigger, but they are part of the routine. Now, for example, my challenge has been to study new technologies such as hydrogen for energy generation through wind power. And maybe the big lesson is this: challenges always exist and are part of the trajectory. The important thing is that you build an efficient support network to help you look for new information, be always on the lookout for news and never stop looking for more learning.
- What kind of support have you found helpful in advancing your career?
The main thing was the possibility of learning from those who were already in the sector before me. I met many highly knowledgeable professionals on my way, and I believe I had the wisdom to stop, listen, have the humility to admit things I didn’t know and listen to someone who was an expert. This is critical. We need to listen to each other, the other person always knows something we don’t, whatever his/her position.