Rosa Puentes

Hydrogen and gas quality adviser at ENTSOG | Events & partnerships lead at Women in Green Hydrogen Network 

  • As green hydrogen expert which is your main role at ENTSOG?

ENTSOG’s mission is to facilitate and enhance cooperation between national gas transmission system operators (TSOs) across Europe in order to ensure the development of a pan-European transmission system in line with European Union energy goals.

As Hydrogen and Gas Quality Adviser at ENTSOG, I provide expertise and proposals to ENTSOG activities related to gas quality, hydrogen injection and transport, while contributing to the development of the EU market rules and the technical aspects of the energy transition. I am also leading several working groups at European level such as ENTSOG hydrogen and gas quality group (who gather representatives from all TSOs in Europe) and the prime movers’ group in gas quality and hydrogen handling. The latter is a stakeholder group which gathers more than 40 EU associations from the whole gas value chain and whose aim is to facilitate the discussion about the main principles to handle gas quality and hydrogen that can optimise the diversification of supplies, decarbonisation of the grid and guarantee end-user safety.

I am also the liaison with ENTSOG Members and external stakeholders for all gas quality and hydrogen handling related aspects including cooperation with other associations to ensure that our efforts are aligned towards finding solutions for a fast and cost-efficient decarbonisation of the sector while maintaining the security of supply at the high level that European customers and the energy system need.

  • Could you tell us about the Women in Green Hydrogen Network?

Aside from my job, I am proudly collaborating with Women in Green Hydrogen (WiGH) by leading the events and partnerships teams. Founded in 2020, Women in Green Hydrogen (WiGH) is a network of ambitious women with the goal of connecting, empowering, and boosting the visibility of women in the sector. It works to promote the participation of women in conferences, expert talks, and relevant media to shape a more diverse and inclusive discourse in the world of green hydrogen.

Did you know that women constitute just 20 % of panel speakers at green hydrogen conferences? This is even less than in the energy sector and other sectors closely related to hydrogen, such as oil & gas: which has an average of just 22% women speakers; transportation: also 22 %; the chemical industry: 35 %; and the renewable energy sector: 32 %.

Our ultimate goal at WiGH is to build a community to foster knowledge exchange, connect women in green hydrogen, and create professional opportunities for our members. To facilitate that, we have created a crowd-sourced database of women experts working in the field of green hydrogen. More than 550 women from over 60 countries around the world are currently registered and it has proven to be a valuable tool to find female experts in the hydrogen sector.

For me, Women in Green Hydrogen Network is a unique experience to connect with incredibly smart and passionate women around the world, learn from them and lead the change towards a more gender-balanced sector.

Despite the successes, there is still much work left to be done. Many industries, conferences and panels are still a long way away from being gender balanced. Yet we believe that through our joint efforts and commitment, we can continue to enable positive change in the future.

  • Why did you choose to focus your professional career on renewable energy?

As many other professional working in the sector, I was always passionate about the fact that someday my contributions could shape the energy system of the future and make decarbonisation a sustainable and affordable process. I saw the great opportunities coming from the switch to renewable energies and I wanted to be part of the change.

Sometimes I am asked why I am in the natural gas sector if that is not ‘renewable’. I thought the same when I started. Yet, I learned along the way that

achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 will require nothing more and nothing less than the complete transformation of the current energy system, which relies heavily on fossil fuels. Undoubtedly, electrification becomes an indispensable way to this end, but it is not enough. Decarbonisation affects all sectors, even the most traditional ones have to transform themselves.

Since I started, I had the opportunity to focus on the decarbonisation of the gas grid via renewable and low-carbon gases (mainly hydrogen and biomethane). Many of the lessons learnt from the deployment of renewable energies in the electricity sector are now useful for the decarbonisation of the natural gas sector. I believe that in the short-term, renewable energy will be an intrinsic part of every process and industry. Definitely not an easy task, since it requires a great amount of commitment and change. Yet, this challenge is what encouraged me to join the sector and keeps me motivated every day.

  • What other women have inspired you in your career?

Honestly, when studying engineering, I was not aware of many women working in the sector. I was not even sure there were many. Workshops, events or career orientation talks provided during my academic years were mostly held by men. That was quite discouraging.

Fortunately, when I started my professional career, I met many incredible and smart women that, one way or another, shaped my career.

Thanks to events like “Inspiring Women Leaders in the Digital Era” and networking sessions provided by associations like “Mujeres a Seguir”, I met amazing women who inspired me like Cristina Aranda Gutiérrez, Teresa María Alarcos Tamayo, an many others with extraordinary professional careers that have instigated me to make decisions to grow professional and even personally.

Currently, thanks to Women in Green Hydrogen Network, I have the opportunity to meet women all around the world whose ideas, and experiences are making a huge impact in my life and career. I hope that this network can make a change in how current engineer students see their professional career and find the inspiration and support they need to continue pursuing their goals.

  • Which challenges have you faced in your professional journey that could help others? 

As an engineer and a young woman working in the natural gas sector, I have always worked in a heavily male-dominated environment. Although I have been lucky to be surrounded by a great team and managers that support me, encourage me, and allow me to learn and thrive in my career, there are definitely some challenges linked to being ‘the only woman in the room’. For instance, one of the biggest challenges I faced was making myself heard. As a fresh graduate full of ideas about how to change the world for the better, I wanted them to listen to me and consider my proposals. Along the years, I learned to adapt my communication style to the audience I was talking to. ‘Grab their attention and make your points clear and concise’ is easier said than done. Most likely their culture, background or even their pre-conception of what you are going to say play a role in the result of the discussion, even before you have started. I am still working on it, but I have definitely made a lot of progress. Yet, I have also realized that it is a common struggle for many women I have met along my professional career from junior professionals to CEOs. As women, we must support each other in making our voices heard because, as Malala Yousafzai once said, our voices can change the world.