With a social DNA, Atlas Renewable Energy aligns with the best international standards to understand the neighboring communities and involve them in the energy transition.

In 2024, Brazil surpassed the milestone of 39 gigawatts (GW) of installed photovoltaic power capacity. According to data from Absolar (Brazilian Association of Photovoltaic Solar Energy), an additional 2 GW was added in the first trimester, demonstrating the rapid pace at which solar installations are increasing across the country.

In the centralized energy generation category, including large-scale renewable energy, installed capacity stands at approximately 12.2 GW.

These photovoltaic projects are more than mere energy generators; they are transforming realities in the regions where they are constructed. 

According to estimates by Absolar, since 2012, large-scale photovoltaic projects have generated around R$ 54.3 billion in new investments and over 366,600 employment opportunities.

For Atlas Renewable Energy, which boasts a portfolio of contracted projects of about 3.7 GW in Brazil, a photovoltaic generation project represents an opportunity to engage with the community. 

“The implementation of a centralized generation project requires significant infrastructure. What we see as an opportunity, and strive to maximize, is leveraging this moment to socialize knowledge and provide our environment with some access to this renewable energy,” says Sandro Ramos, ESG manager of Atlas Renewable Energy in Brazil.

Ramos explains that community engagement is an active and ongoing endeavor that is part of all the company’s initiatives and goes far beyond disseminating knowledge. The initiatives aim to empower people, generate employment and income opportunities, strengthen local culture, and, of course, identify ways of incorporating renewable energy into the daily lives of the communities near the projects. 

“All our actions related to environmental education, communication, and explaining what the project entails inherently convey what renewable energy is. In some cases, we have the opportunity to physically bring renewable energy to these people, whether it’s a solar-powered pump or an electric supply to a community center,” says Ramos.

We Are Part of the Same Energy 

One of Atlas Renewable Energy’s strategies to ensure a fair energy transition is to promote inclusion.

Historically, women’s participation in the construction of solar projects in Brazil has been minimal, about 2%. Atlas Renewable Energy has set a goal to increase participation to at least  15%, which requires significant planning and organization to implement training, monitoring, and support programs to prepare women to work in these projects.

This is the premise of “We Are Part of the Same Energy”, the flagship program of the company that has already exceeded the goal and reached 22% hiring of professional women in one of its projects in Brazil.

The primary focus of the program is to train and hire women to work in renewable energy projects with special emphasis during the construction and operation stages. Sandro explains that when they arrive in a region, the company first conducts an assessment of the local context and existing social programs to ensure their actions are complementary and bring new opportunities to the area’s realities. 

After this mapping, along with the project execution schedule, the needed professionals and the type of training that the women will receive are defined.

“The contracts are related to module assembly, electromechanical assembly, and activities related to civil construction. We look at all the stages and evaluate when each area will need to hire professionals, and we carry out the courses so that the women are ready at that time,” says Ramos.

Through “We Are Part of the Same Energy,” Atlas Renewable Energy has already provided this training and employment to more than a thousand women across Latin America.

+ Girls in Science

According to the World Bank, only half of women participate in the global workforce, compared to nearly three out of four men. This disparity is reflected in the energy sector, where only 16% of traditional jobs are held by women. 

Renewables are helping to improve this scenario. According to data from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), women already hold 32% of positions in renewable industries.

However, there is still much progress to be made, and the change needs to start in the school phase – and this is what the + Girls in Science program, developed by Atlas Renewable Energy, proposes. 

Through STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education, the + Girls in Science program aims to fill a gap identified by IRENA as crucial for promoting greater diversity in the sector.

The initiative seeks to open new horizons for Brazilian girls, who may one day fill the positions that the renewable industry will generate. 

“In the future, they might have a very different opinion about the type of career they want to pursue. The program is strongly supported by a long period of planning and executing activities, telling the stories of women who have done this before. Of course, they don’t have to follow that career, but they become aware that they can. Women have done it before, and today there are companies and policies in place to ensure this possibility,” explains Ramos.

The ESG manager shares that one of the mandatory stages of the program is a visit to their plant under construction, so the girls can interact with the workers firsthand.

“We implemented this at one of our projects in Paracatu (MG) and the feedback we received about the program was already wonderful from the girls, but it was also very positive with the workers. We could see how those workers, both men and women, were interested in showing what the work was to those girls. There was a great motivation among everyone involved,” says Ramos.

Ecoar: Cinema with Belonging

Also in Paracatu, Minas Gerais, where Atlas Renewable Energy operates the Boa Sorte solar complex, the company found an opportunity to promote regional culture. 

“When we arrived in Paracatu, we noticed a strong audiovisual tradition related to cinema, documentaries, and journalism. In addition, Paracatu has a historical tradition related to the Black community, due to its historical settlement. So, we saw an opportunity to combine these two elements,” said Sandro.

Thus, “Ecoar: Cinema with Belonging” was born, an initiative offering technical courses in audiovisual production so people can tell their own stories. The intention is to give visibility to historically marginalized groups, expanding the reach to the entire municipality. 

“We selected groups related to the Black and LGBTQIAPN+ communities in Paracatu and provided training to at least one person from each group, so they had all the elements related to the script, camera handling, and everything needed to create documentaries telling their own stories. We have groups of capoeira, quilombola communities, LGBTQIAPN+ support groups, among others,” he said.

Towards a Just Transition

Replacing fossil fuels with clean energy is an irreversible path. At the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28), the world agreed to triple renewable capacity and transition away from fossil fuels.

Currently, this change in the energy matrix needs to be accompanied by actions that will mitigate projects’ impacts on society and the environment.

For Sandro Ramos, Atlas Renewable Energy’s projects demonstrate that it is possible to make a fair energy transition, respecting, above all, the most vulnerable.

“We must take into account climate change, the impact of biodiversity and people. Our energy must drive the transformation of people. Energize to transform. That’s our idea,” said Ramos.

This article was created in partnership with Castleberry Media. At Castleberry Media, we are dedicated to environmental sustainability. By purchasing Carbon Certificates for tree planting, we actively combat deforestation and offset our CO₂ emissions threefold.