EDPR NA’s Vidha Dixit and Martin Motta, Episode 5, Green Giants: Titans of Renewable Energy


In this episode, Wes Ashworth interviews Vidha Dixit and Martin Motta from EDPR North America. They discuss the innovation themes and programs at EDP Renewables, including internal and external innovation initiatives. They also talk about the importance of ESG goals and efforts at EDPR North America and how they integrate into the business model. The challenges and accomplishments in the renewable energy sector are highlighted, along with advice for professionals starting their careers in the industry. The episode concludes with a vision for the future of renewable energy and the role of collaboration in achieving sustainability goals. The conversation explores the initiatives and technologies that EDP Renewables North America and EDP Group are working on to achieve sustainability. They emphasize the importance of striking a balance and being able to sustain these efforts over an extended period of time. The guests also discuss the need for innovation and sustainability in all areas of their work.

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Transcript

Welcome to Green Giants: Titans of Renewable Energy, the podcast where insights and innovation meet. Every episode, we dive into conversations with industry leaders, experts and change makers, bringing you the stories and ideas in the renewable energy sector that shape our world. And now let’s jump into today’s episode with your host, Wes Ashworth.

Wes Ashworth (00:26)

Welcome to Green Giants: Titans of Renewable Energy. In today’s episode, I’m excited to introduce Vidha Dixit and Martin Motta from EDPR North America, a leader in the renewable energy sector. Headquartered in Houston, Texas, EDPR North America is at the forefront of developing, constructing, owning, and operating wind farms, solar parks, and energy storage systems across North America. Vidha Dixit is a dynamic sustainability and ESG associate at EDPR. Her passion for sustainability shines through her work in creating circular value chains and low waste solutions. Her impressive background in environmental and sustainability consulting has positioned her as a pivotal figure in the renewable energy landscape.

Alongside Vidha, we have Martin Motta, an innovation associate with a keen eye for renewable energy technologies and sustainability solutions. Martin’s expertise lies in identifying and nurturing innovative clean energy initiatives, playing a crucial role in EDPR North America’s mission to drive sustainable energy innovations. Together, Vidha and Martin represent the dedication and expertise that propel EDPR North America’s success. EDPR North America is leading the energy transition by generating more than 8,600 megawatts of renewable energy across North America, which is equivalent to powering more than two million homes. Join us as we delve into the experiences and insights of these two renewable energy champions and explore EDPR North America’s impactful journey in shaping a sustainable future. So with that, let’s jump into today’s episode. Martin and Vidha, welcome to the show and thanks for being here.

So we’ll start out in terms of the innovation side of the business, Martin, can you just give us a general overview of the current internal innovation themes that EDP Renewables is focusing on in the US?

Martin Motta (02:16)

Yeah, absolutely Wes. So in North America, we’re focusing our efforts in three pillars to optimize value of our existing assets, to build blocks for next gen products, and especially to invest and develop our green tech. What do we mean by that? Specifically, “optimizing the value of existing assets” is finding opportunities for reducing of curtailment impacts on revenue and reducing operational costs through optimizing equipment, grid disconnections, plant monetization, automation, AI and virtualization. So really technologies that can help us get through some of the biggest challenges that we face as an industry.

For building blocks for next gen products. You know, this sounds like a complex topic, but what we really mean is that there’s going to be up and coming products that ourselves and our competitors are going to be looking to develop. And it’s really our job to build the ecosystem around it in terms of technological solutions to be able to follow through with some of those products we want to look into.

Examples of those are fractional products, 24-7 product modeling, app tribute ecosystem, and our settlement ecosystem. So specific areas where the problems can be quite technological at the forefront, but eventually are going to be solutions that we bring closer to the business.

Wes Ashworth (03:30)

Yeah, that’s awesome stuff. And we touched on these and I want to dig into them more and some of the programs that are happening there that you’re involved in and the teams involved in there. Can you give us kind of an overview of a couple of those programs that you’re running within the innovation side? And then we can kind of deep dive into those a little bit too.

Martin Motta (03:51)

Yeah, especially I want to point out that we are both doing internal and external innovation. We’re very open about the efforts that we’re putting in internally to create an innovative culture within North America. More specifically, we are launching a U-Innovate program. And that program is designed to empower employees, offering them numerous opportunities to spearhead and transform innovation efforts throughout our business.

The campaign is divided into two key components. We’re building out an innovation board for North America, so applicants will be able to distinguish their expertise and be able to really shape the innovation within North America. And the second part will be really about education, bringing forth a culture of co-innovation, so getting our employees to work with the startups, teaching them about what our venture strategy is, and finally introducing them to the grant funding landscape and the innovation grants that we see a lot of opportunity with. So that’s for internal innovation efforts.

Externally, we really have these two main programs that we run at a global level. The first is the Energy Starter Program, which is a startup accelerator run by EDP Group’s Innovation Hub out of Portugal. There’s a great opportunity for startups from a variety of different backgrounds, primarily future grids, renewable energy and green hydrogen and client solutions and mobility to apply and develop their technologies and solutions with experts from within the industry. This is great for visibility. It’s great to get your company out there and really to push forward and advance the readiness of your technology or the solution that you’re bringing to the table.

And the second one is the free electrons program that does not just only include EDP, but a consortium of companies within the energy space and utility space. And that’s a great opportunity as well to apply and get your startup out there. For 2024, Free of Electrons will host a bootcamp in Madrid at the end of May or start of June with 30 startups that are already being vetted by numerous experts within the field. So like I said, internally and externally, we’re always looking to develop opportunities with startups and with our employees.

Wes Ashworth (06:05)

Yeah, can we dig into both sides of that? But I’m curious, the internal program, how does that work? How long has that been going on? And is it just a sort of forum for employees within the company to bring ideas to the table? Or what does it look like in real life today?

Martin Motta (06:27)

Yeah, definitely. So for context, we launched our innovation hub in the United States one year ago, pretty close to this date. And so the focus then was to really evaluate what those opportunities were in North America and how we could work closely with the business to bring those opportunities to life. Moving into 2024, we really want to drum up engagement. We want to hand some of these innovation practices and ideals into the hands of our employees in North America. So, in reality, we’re really getting this started specifically with U-Innovate in the United States, but we’ve had a numerous amount of other opportunities for employees to get involved in either practice their pitches for ideas and technologies. And we’ve worked closely with them, but how it would look like for this year would be, you apply with your idea and your area of expertise within the company. We will go through a selection process to develop which one of these employees will be part of this 10 member board. And what that looks like will be quarterly meetings with our ventures experts, with our grant funding expertise and with our innovation project managers to learn how to work together with startups and really get the news before anyone else and actually bring over the opportunities as well. So really creating more of a community around it and disseminating that culture amongst different parts of the business. We’re extremely excited and we want it to be as diverse and dynamic as possible.

Wes Ashworth (07:58)

Yeah, I love that. You hear a lot of different strategies out there and what companies are doing to create this innovation focused culture. And I think that’s one of the coolest things I’ve heard and having that formalized program as you just outlined there. So that’s incredible. With the Energy Starter program, so that is more external focused, I think, as you were saying. Who’s the target market in terms of these startups out there? What’s the benefit for them? Who would want to get involved? Why would they want to get involved? And what does it look like after somebody, if it’s an application process or what that process is like?

Martin Motta (08:37)

Yeah, it’s a great question, Wes. So essentially, I would say any startup that is within the future grids, renewable energy and green hydrogen and client solutions and mobility space is welcome to apply our applications for 2024 up close, but you can follow it very closely on any of the websites, LinkedIn or other mediums. And essentially what this does, it provides you the opportunity to connect with leaders within EDP’s space. So you’ll be able to pitch your technology and then work closely with experts within your specific field to really understand what the business case is for it. We’re really doing a, really providing a service, but also a benefit for both for EDP and the startup. You get immediate feedback. You get a very intimate connection with the different experts within our field, but we also get firsthand visibility on a much more granular level. And these are both in the forms of pitches, there’s also an open innovation day where they come actually on site, the startups, and you work closely with them. And it also ties into a program like U-innovate, because from my experience, being part of these types of programs, it is anyone within the organization that has some expertise or experience within this technology, we’ll be interviewing you or we’ll be working together with you to come to a greater understanding as to what those synergies are with the company like EDP.

And what does it look like eventually for the startup? It can be an investment from our Ventures team. It can be an overall platform for them to get more exposure within the industry. And we’ve seen a variety of different maturity levels from these startups. So it can really help get your name out there if you’re just getting started and you’re incorporated and you have a patent. It might be something like that, or it might be a much bigger company that ends up getting an investment from EDP and gets incorporated or has some contract with the EDP coming out of it. So it’s really a spectrum in terms of the benefits that come with it.

Wes Ashworth (10:51)

Yeah. No, that’s incredible. I say it a lot how I think the cool thing of the entire renewable energy industry and clean tech industry is that it’s one of these, like it takes a village, right? It’s very collaborative. It takes a lot of people working together. And this is another great idea that’s come out of an innovation mindset of bringing other groups in, helping startups, partnering where it makes sense internally, externally. So I love this idea as you’ve outlined it and what you guys are doing there. And with that kind of thinking about some of the investments you’ve made, can you tell us a bit more about, I think it was Captura, a recent part of that and the venture strategy. And I’d love to hear more about that and get your take on it.

Martin Motta (11:40)

Yeah, absolutely. You know, we’re very happy to present our recent investment in Captura from our ventures team. Captura is a groundbreaking company developing direct ocean capture technology at the forefront of this transformative effort. They recently had a $21.5 million expansion to a Series A funding. And that was a great opportunity for our ventures team to get involved. And we actually have a really great piece written by João Marques Felipe on the website medium.com that I would encourage anyone listening to this podcast to go read it in terms of what was the strategy looking into investing into a startup like that.

But it, you know, just to get to the point, you know, we know, like you said, it’s going to take a village and we need to look at the decarbonizing movement from a variety of different fronts. You know, we put in efforts definitely in terms of creating renewable generating facilities in North America and around the world, but we are going to not leave any stone unturned, right? We’re going to look at this problem from a variety of different perspectives. So investing in this, in Captura is very strategic for us to get into the carbon capture space. But specifically, you know, I remember learning that the ocean is the world’s greatest carbon sink. That was mind blowing to me. And that’s really where this, where it comes down to with a company like Captura.

Wes Ashworth (12:58)

Yeah, absolutely. And then kind of again, thinking about other, you know, key accomplishments, challenges that you’ve seen since you’ve been a part of this journey. What are some of those key accomplishments, challenges that EDPR has faced in the journey of innovation and renewable energy? And, you know, it’s fast moving, it’s complex, there’s lots of challenges, but it’s crucial work, you know, I think that we’re all passionate about. But, yeah, I’m interested to hear some of those key accomplishments and challenges.

Martin Motta (13:31)

Yeah, since we’re capping off the ventures discussion, you know, we have over 55 million euros invested over 39 portfolio companies globally. It’s a great achievement for us in terms of what we’re looking to do in 2024. We’re looking to moving into opportunities in PPA management, PV recycling, laundration, storage, geothermal floating, solar energy management. I sound like I’m rapping, but these are all the topics that we’re looking at at the moment, but in terms of achievements as well, you know, we’re really proud of most recently in North America, Sharp Hills completion, 297 megawatts, 67 wind turbines located in the special areas. And this isn’t only an innovation topic, but it really is just something that we’re really proud about the continual expansion of renewable energy assets. And in terms of challenges, you know, how long do you got, right? There’s challenges all over the place, but really, the way forward is more collaboration, more openness and the opportunities that are available. And really it’s having an open mind, right? That’s something that innovation has taught me the most is no matter how small or how big the company is that you’re having conversation with or the influence within the employee that you’re bouncing ideas off each other. There’s nothing that I don’t think we can solve, but it’s really a continual process and it’s what’s keeping me very motivated in coming back to this. So yeah, all of it together. Other challenges, you know, I can always think there’s regulatory fronts that we continuously work towards and we have great people from our regulatory teams that are working through that, but really just how can we continue to accelerate renewables penetration within North America.

Wes Ashworth (15:22)

Yeah, love it. Love it. Kind of final thoughts, maybe on innovation at least, any other things that you see on a day to day basis in terms of what EDPR is doing on a day to day basis to just promote innovation, to embrace this culture where people are bringing ideas to the table, maybe thinking differently, you know, challenging status quo. Is there anything else that’s done from just what you’re seeing within the company or culture wise that promotes that within the organization.

Martin Motta (15:55)

Yeah, absolutely. Be fearless, right? Within the organization or externally, you know, at least myself, I’m very motivated to get us across that line by 2050, right? So, be fearless. You know, EDPR North America is really open to working with companies across the industry in a variety of different opportunities. You know, we haven’t touched upon Vidha’s work so far yet, but, we’re looking to work together really to collaborate, have an opportunity this summer to work on a project that kind of intersects both our work, but then also involve some external partners as well. So we’re really open to working with partners across the industry. EDPR North America is innovative. We’ll continue to work towards these goals. And yeah, we’ll keep motivating and empowering our employees to do the same.

Wes Ashworth (16:48)

Perfect. A perfect segue to get into Vidha’s side of the equation and how that comes in. Just looking at sustainability and ESG. So Vidha can you elaborate on EDPR’s ESG goals for the future and how you’re seeing that play out day to day?

Vidha Dixit (17:06)

Yeah, absolutely. And thanks again for having both Martin and I on the show. We’re really happy to be here and showcase some of EDP Renewables’s great work. There’s only so much we can fit into the hour, but we’ll definitely try our best. So again, I serve as our ESG and sustainability associate. And just taking a step back, EDP renewables as an organization is aiding in global decarbonization goals. We just wrapped up COP 28, so we understand the importance of what we’re doing. And for EDP Renewables in particular, that means the deployment of more than 4 gigawatts of new renewable energy assets year over year with the goal of reaching 17 gigawatts of gross additions by 2026. So just from the business as usual, we’re excited to be in this space. We do, of course, have ESG goals as a number of other folks in the renewables sector do. So we’ve divided those into different ambitions. So that does include, of course, our global goal of decarbonization with that renewable energy capacity addition, but also empowering communities through global investment and training programs. Of course, something that’s really top of mind for everyone is protecting our planet through circularity and biodiversity goals. We’re also hoping to engage with partners to build a really robust and sustainable supply chain. In addition to creating a strong ESG culture internally through health and safety metrics, as well as different equity, diversity and inclusion initiatives.

Wes Ashworth (18:48)

Okay, yeah, absolutely. And how, you know, thinking about just the business model and decision making processes, how does ESG integrate into that and what you’re seeing in how decisions are made and how things are moved forward and sort of filtering through that lens?

Vidha Dixit (19:08)

Yeah, absolutely. So, EDP Renewables really believes our company’s core business is not only to deliver on development, building, operating top-quality renewable energy facilities. Of course, that is what we do. That is our business. But inherently, this is contributing to reduction of greenhouse gas emissions aiding in the world’s fight against climate change and the impacts that come with it. So through these ESG commitments we’re really integrating this within our organization. We’re really future-proofing our company. It is honestly risk management and providing resiliency, not only for EDPR and our team members, but also the communities that we serve.

Wes Ashworth (19:51)

Yeah, I love that. And I know, as it relates to ESG and stakeholders and kind of thinking about that, why is the issue important to stakeholders? How does the PR communicate its ESG efforts to those shareholders?

Vidha Dixit (20:12)

Yeah, absolutely. And you bring up a great point and a little bit about the reason why I’m here. So this role was new to EDP Renewables North America as of last year because the organization realized the importance from both internal and external stakeholders, the questions that they’re asking, the need to respond to different regulatory requirements or reporting requirements as well. So why is sustainability important to those stakeholders?

That’s because it’s a strategic imperative as we position ourselves and as our stakeholders position themselves for the future. There are growing environmental and social challenges. They’re very complex. Some are very urgent and the stakes continue to grow. So really including sustainability in what we’re doing is important to everybody’s business. I’ll touch in particular on investors, as I’m sure folks who will end up listening to this are probably deep in an end of year reporting and things like that. Investors are really requiring greater transparency, whether that’s through sustainable finance disclosure frameworks, CSRD, employees want to better understand how our organization is positively impacting people and planet. I’m sure a lot of folks have seen different metrics, particularly Gen Z about their importance of knowing that where they work is making an impact in the community. So, you know, those are just a couple of areas that really feed into the importance of ESG to stakeholders. And I can’t even begin to talk about the communities and the customers that we serve. They want to make sure that whatever is in their backyard, their front yard, that they’re doing good and doing well.

Wes Ashworth (22:57)

Yeah, yeah, so critical there. And I think that’s so true in what we see every day, you know, and myself and kind of the recruiting side of things, talking to candidates, especially those that are, you know, kind of mid-career and earlier. It’s one of the highest items on their list, that I want to work for a company that I feel good about. It’s making a positive difference in the world. And so all this comes into play as you just shared. But I think the same with customers here, you’re now coming with really getting an informed customer that’s asking a lot of questions and wants to know. And I don’t know that that was always the case. I think it’s a great thing, but I think even more important to some of the initiatives and things that you’re driving and what you’re talking about there. So now that’s incredible. What are some of the challenges? So in terms of what you faced in implementing and maintaining strong ESG principles.

Vidha Dixit (22:53)

Yeah, so, you know, Wes, with your background in recruiting, that’s actually one area. Of course, EDP faces a number of challenges as it comes to ESG, but focusing specifically on that particular area of, let’s say, recruitment, it’s also understanding, are folks trained in this new, so to speak, this new type of work? So in an effort to combat that or understanding that there may be a gap in the labor market or the availability for talent for renewable energy, we’ve actually created one of the first of its kind, a solar and wind technician training facility in Bloomington, Illinois. So it’s a very strategic facility, but it kind of marries what Martin had mentioned, innovation, knowledge, and ESG by providing technicians expertise. That’s necessary to have a successful career. So again, resiliency building, future proofing, but that’s definitely a concern or challenge is how are we getting top talent in these highly technical fields? Another challenge is, of course, we are in North America, we’re chatting in North America, but our organization reports up to Europe. So there is a challenge in implementing certain ESG principles when they come from a European standpoint because our counterparts across the pond have more governmental directives, compliance requirements, governmental support in different areas of ESG, whereas in North America, it’s still relatively voluntary. So certain parts, not all by any means, it is difficult to implement principles and practices because of that voluntary piece. Now we’re seeing that change in the landscape. We saw some bills passed in California for climate disclosure and GHG accounting. For some of our projects, actually, the counties themselves have no landfill policies, so we have to make sure that we’re incorporating those circular materials practices. But again, it’s quite disaggregated. So I would say those are two challenges that I can think of. But, like Martin mentioned, where do we even start? So I’ll just stick with those two.

Wes Ashworth (25:12)

Yeah, the challenges are far and wide. I think that’s why it’s so important to be passionate about this and have a heart for it because it keeps you going, keeps you pushing through those innovating and coming up with ideas. I love several things you shared there. In particular, I love the technician training. And I think from, we do see that as I look at the recruiting landscape, you see the growth that’s ahead and it’s happening now. And there is a talent gap. These people don’t exist currently within their renewable energy sector. Not enough of them at least. So, you know, you’ve got to pull from adjacent industries and skill sets that make sense. And then how do you bring them in and integrate them into the company and get them up to speed? But while you just shared there, that’s a phenomenal, phenomenal way to do it. And I’m sure, you know,

seeing a lot of success there. So that’s fantastic. Yeah. So looking forward, any, you mentioned some things, obviously, you know, Europe being sometimes further along in the development cycle and having some of those more, not as optional things that are out there, but looking forward, what trends or changes do you anticipate in the realm of ESG within the renewable energy sector in North America?

Vidha Dixit (26:35)

Sure. So as I had mentioned, there is going to be the continued evolution with more comprehensive practices. We are seeing a couple of those regulatory requirements being built in. But a lot of it is coming from investor demands and the growing recognition of the importance of sustainability, social responsibility, and how that feeds into reputational risk. So I’m seeing that as a growing trend. Absolutely, you know, transparency, taking responsibility, and a big thing I think is understanding supply chains. So ensuring responsible sourcing of material. What are our labor practices? Of course, everyone’s, I’m sure, well aware of, you know, the various UFLPA with, you know, weaker labor in China, understanding where our panels are coming from, et cetera. So really minimizing that footprint or rather even understanding the footprint is going to be an area of growth. And I know just over the last couple of weeks, I personally have chatted with a number of kind of transparency or supply chain mapping organizations so we can better understand how that looks for EDP renewables as well. So I definitely see some trends in those particular areas for sure.

One big one that I personally am really excited about and EDP is very strong in that area is partnerships. And Martin spoke about it on the innovation side, but being open to learning best practices from others, sharing best practices, that is really crucial to addressing these complex challenges. So as an example, EDP Renewables North America just launched our Close the Loop initiative, which is our circularity program in North America where we’ve partnered with over 19 organizations, ranging from blade recycling organizations to panel recycling organizations. We’ve got battery storage folks on there, safety clean. So there’s a lot of different areas where we’re trying to understand who are the leaders, how can we incorporate them in our business practices to really manage, you know, in this case, end of life for products. But that is something that I see happening across the board is really engaging in partnerships and learning from each other.

Wes Ashworth (28:56)

Yeah, and I love that. I love that the mindset there, you see some industries that are just so competitive, you know, and so closed and, you we’re just going to stay in our tight little bubble. And this is not one of those industries and the ones that are doing it the best and succeeding and moving forward, understand that as you just shared. So I love seeing that. I love hearing those stories, too, and those efforts. So as we said before, it takes a village and all all coming together and figuring it out together. So that’s awesome.

Vidha Dixit (29:29)

Exactly, yeah, and the solutions will help all of us. So I am really, really happy to be in this space. In particular, I think renewables is very collaborative and always open to learning.

Wes Ashworth (29:43)

Yeah. Yeah, cool. So let’s just talk a little bit about collaboration to kind of bring the two of you together. So how do the innovation and ESG departments at EDPR, how do they collaborate to achieve common goals?

Martin Motta (29:57)

Yeah, so really interesting for myself and Vidha, we actually sit within the same team within EDPR in North America. We were both within the project management organization and more specifically between beneath a team called BPE, which is all about revolutionizing the technology within the business. But we have our own special groups. Within that, we report to the same director, meaning that we integrate ourselves in each other’s work pretty frequently, especially day to day we work closely. So we’re really game planning for 2024, what those projects would look like. So like I mentioned, green tech is really at the forefront of something we want to really work on within 2024. So we’d like to develop white papers internally. This is one that we will work together closely on more specifically for this summer. We’ve been discussing a potential internship that would report to both of us and one of our industry partners really focused on PV recycling and recycling vendors that are available to us. And it’d be a really great opportunity to not only create something that’s useful internally, especially for our developers, but also available externally, something that can be shared amongst the industry. And Vidha can kind of share a little more details as to why it’s so important to have more information from our recycling vendors.

Vidha Dixit (31:19)

Yeah, but totally agree with Martin. I think every week we’re kind of pinging different things back to each other. And a lot of times, you know, because EDP has a very large innovation team at the global level as well, Martin will get insights, industry trends that he can then share with me. And then I’ll figure out, okay, how can we operationalize this at the US, Canada, Mexico level, if this is something that we can do here. So it’s a lot of good knowledge sharing. And then yes, in particular about potential internship opportunity, what we’ve noticed is there’s a gap for developers when we’re trying to, again, close the loop or ensure that there’s some sort of reverse supply chain to get those materials that are discarded or not needed to an end facility. But how can we do that without spending unnecessary greenhouse gases in the transmission and distribution process? So what are some things that we can do to fix that? Is there a way to map out this sort of chain or can there be publicly available sourcing of where things are? So in its infancy, but definitely something that Martin and I will be working on together.

Wes Ashworth (32:33)

Yeah, that’s incredible. I love that the cohesion there, you know, I don’t think that that’s always the case. When it works really well, that the cohesion is there and, and he’s kind of like rolling up under the same team almost and working hand in hand, that’s incredible stuff. And I think as you’re seeing that too, this is why I think there’s so much activity with startups and funding and things like that going on because there are a lot of gaps, you know, there are still a lot of needs for those other companies that support, you know, whether it’s what you just went through or other things that come in. So there’s increased need. And again, that all comes down to need. Great people that are coming up with new ideas and new technologies and new ways to bridge some of those gaps. And we need more people in the industry as well too. So with that and kind of switching gears over to bringing people in, this is a topic I’m always passionate about. You both obviously entered the industry and found a home there, but what advice would you give to professionals maybe who are just starting their careers in the renewable energy sector or that person that’s considering an internship you just talked about? What advice would you give them? And I’d love to hear from both of you and just hear your thoughts.

Martin Motta (33:50)

Yeah, that’s a great question. And these are the two right people to ask because I remember not knowing a lot about these sorts of topics, right? And it really just took taking one class for me at the time I was in university, taking one class on climate change to learn a lot about the history behind where this movement lies. And then eventually learning what those opportunities were. And for me, one of those classes was something called Environmental Economics, valuations of natural resources and really looking into what the conservation of those resources are. Trying to think in my head, how could I build out a career in this space? That being said, it doesn’t have to be within education, but it has to be looking into a topic that you’re already somewhat connected with and seeing, where are the ESG spaces that you can really rework yourself in? I think the more people learn about the topics, the more impassionately they become and the more they see how they can apply it to the thing that they do so well. So, really my advice would be, find where the intersection is within what you do in sustainability topic and ESG topic because it really could be something related communities and working conditions. All these topics I think are interconnected and related and for me that was what was the turning point. And then I just wanted to find the fastest opportunity I could get my hands on. But what I would recommend to people now, it’s between corporates and nonprofits and even startups, there are so many opportunities within this space to get involved in. It really is, where is that intersection with what you do now if you like it? And if not, then find something else within the space that sounds exciting.

Vidha Dixit (35:30)

Totally agree with Martin. And I would say my answer is a little twofold. One way is education. There are so many opportunities now. Let’s say if you want to have a continued education, a master’s, an MBA, or just some certification programs, there is a variety of information out there, whether that be for sustainability, greenhouse gas accounting, carbon management, renewable energy technology, project financing, so the varieties for a true kind of education opportunity are really endless and a great way to get your foot in the door to understand what’s available. And then on the second side, when we’re looking at the different opportunities that are available, I would always say don’t kind of hone in on one specific area because there are so many things you can do. Just thinking about renewables, there’s always a need for project development, creating these really exciting, thinking about our renewable energy capacity additions, we need folks to build those projects. We need folks in tax equity financing to finance these projects. We need folks out in the communities that are helping develop the understanding of our landowners for what’s going on. So don’t, I often think folks get kind of wrapped up in the title of, I wanna work in sustainability, I wanna work in innovation, but you can work in all of those areas by doing other things as well that still make a really, really positive and tangible impact on people and planet.

Wes Ashworth (37:02)

Yeah, I love both those perspectives and agree completely. And I think that’s one of the exciting things about the industry is really any skill set, there’s a need somewhere within the industry. And you look at, you know, from software side to different forms of engineering, I think every facet of engineering plays a part to communications folks, to finance and accounting and, you could literally name any type of job and career and it probably fits somewhere in there. So these skill sets translate really, really well. And that’s true for, I think, people that are coming into the industry, but I think the other thing you’re seeing are industry switchers. You know, people coming from industries that their skill set makes sense. Maybe there’s a little learning curve, but there’s a passion there and you see some great resources for knowledge and it works really well. But it really does cover everything. You know, you’ve got this, this bleeding edge tech and innovation and AI that comes into play, like all these hot topics that I think people are kind of getting excited about. It all comes into, to renewable, which is really cool. So what excites you about your career? You know, why did you join the company? What keeps you there? I’d love to hear that perspective as well.

Vidha Dixit (38:20)

Sure, I’ll chime in. I’ll say there are always increasing amounts of renewable players, but EDP’s real commitment to environmental, social governance standards and as Martin mentioned, our cutting edge innovation, there are two factors by which our renewable projects and the teams that are behind them can really be differentiated. So EDP renewables is really a game changer and so exciting to be part of. Every day I learn something new. So, very happy to be here. I haven’t even been here for a year and I truly can picture a career at this organization. So I feel very grateful for that.

Martin Motta (39:03)

Yeah, I can maybe shed a little bit of light. I think what I did was I looked at a pie chart looking at global carbon emissions and by industry and what was the, where could I sink my teeth in the biggest, you know, portion. And it was, you know, electrical generation. And at that point I started feverishly searching any opportunity that I could in any renewable energy company. But eventually I did find the right opportunity with EDP Renewables North America, you know, it was very close to home. I think they treat people very well. It’s been shown, you know, we’ve won Top Workplace several times at this point, including in 2023. So, you know, we’ve been listed on these types of types of awards that are for how they treat their people. And then seeing it here, you know, the opportunities that have come to me are fantastic and they keep me motivated. Like I said, working with startups has been a really great experience, talking to these innovators, really finding different ways to learn every single day is part of the journey here. And I think most people, or if not everyone in the organization feels that way. It’s ever evolving. The challenges are ever more complex or changing. So I don’t think it’s a boring place to work at all. It’s very exciting and you always go to bed knowing that you are taking steps towards a greater good. At least that’s the way I think about it. I know Vidha is aligned on this too. And we specifically have very specific roles that touch onto these topics. But like you said, anything you can do within the organization is involved in this some way or somehow. And we’re very fortunate to be able to do that. And I wanted to give a shout out for any of those people that have humanities backgrounds. You can absolutely get involved with renewables. We do need people on a legislation front. We need storytellers. We need people that are able to connect the dots a little bit and think about things in different ways. So I’ve met people from a variety of different backgrounds within EDPR North America. And I’m sure within the industry, it’s not all super technical. every single role. So, get out there and get in and yeah, try something different.

Wes Ashworth (41:17)

Absolutely. Now, great answers. I love hearing that. I love those first-hand perspectives and just what excites you about it. So getting close is sort of wrapping up and finally, you know, thinking about this and again, love for both of you to chime in. For you personally, and just thinking about the future of renewable energy, where things are headed, and again, how your company plays into that as well, you know, what is your vision? What do you see? What are some things you’re excited about and just kind of overall?

Vidha Dixit (41:52)

Yeah, personally, my vision within EDP Renewables North America is, I love that this organization does put its money where its mouth is. And you can see that just by these two roles that are speaking to you today is, this is what we value. This is what we see in the future. This is how we mitigate risk. This is how we build resiliency and we stay ahead of the pack and a leader, is by understanding that these areas will continue to grow. So I am fortunate to be here. And I think it’s all evidenced as well, you know, from the North America level, but also at EDPR Spain, EDP group in Portugal, really practicing what they preach, staying abreast of, hey, what are the different regulations in the geographies that we act in? How can we become ingrained in partnerships in these different geographies so that we can, if not, participate in something, let’s create something that needs to be there for ESG. So definitely an area that I’m excited about.

Wes Ashworth (42:56)

Awesome.

Martin Motta (42:56)

Yeah, what I can share is balance, right? That’s my vision, at least for the industry and for the world that we’re living in. Balance in the types of generation resources, really looking to bolster and solidify the resilience of these energy systems. I know you’ve had people on this podcast talk about distributed energy systems, and we have a part of the company that’s working in that as well. So there is just a variety of different initiatives and technologies and companies that are working at this from a variety of different angles. And my focus is to at some point strike balance and be able to do this for a long time. I love the term sustainable and sustainability, but it really at the end of the day means to be able to repeat this and do it over an extended period of time. So I think EDP Renewables North America and EDP Group overall is looking to strike that balance. And we’re looking at how to do this in a variety of different facets. Innovation sustainability are just two of the topics that we can shed light on, but it really is represented in all the areas that we work on.

Wes Ashworth (44:10)

Yeah, no, perfect. And then final closing thoughts, just I’ll open the floor, you know, it’s up to you, kind of what you want to share and just open it up. But any additional insights or thoughts you’d like to share with the audience, things on your mind, things we didn’t get to talk about and just jump right in.

Vidha Dixit (44:32)

Yeah, well, again, thank you for the opportunity to chat today. It was really exciting to share about the work at EDP and of course what Martin and I do as well. I would say get involved. There are so many wonderful organizations out there, whether it’s Women in Renewable Energy, the RISE organization, SIA, SIPA, EPRI, there’s even NREL. There are just so many exciting things that are taking place, really wonderful research. So just signing on to those newsletter lists, I think I learn something new every day. And it just gets dropped into my inbox. And a lot of times, that’s how you can find opportunities for a career as well. So I definitely encourage folks. Google can be your best friend sometimes.

Wes Ashworth (45:18)

There you go. Great advice.

Martin Motta (45:21)

Yeah, no. And finally, for me, get in touch with us, whether you’re a startup, whether you’re a potential partner, recycling company, please get in touch with us. We’re always open to collaborating and looking at things from a different perspective. And we’re really looking to help us grow all this. So reach out. We have our LinkedIn for EDPR North America, it’s extremely active. Please follow us on there. Please follow this podcast. Wes, thank you so much for having us. Really wish you success with this. And yeah, we’ll be looking forward to intersecting paths in the future.

Wes Ashworth (45:59)

Yeah, no, absolutely. Well, great closing thoughts. I can’t thank you both enough for coming on and joining and just giving us a fresh perspective. And you can hear the passion, energy behind what you’re doing. So I love it. I love getting this word out and helping share it to others. So thank you again. And to the audience out there, thanks for listening. If you enjoyed the conversation, share it. Help us continue to spread the word, get the word out. And I  think that’s important as we look at this entire topic, not just this podcast, but those articles that Vidha was touching on, the LinkedIn pages and those sort of things, start connecting, putting stuff out there and sharing as we get the word out and more and more exposure, the better this becomes. So don’t forget to share this with a colleague, subscribe, rate, review, and then stay tuned for our next episode.