NEFI Power Women for the Decarbonisation of Industry

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by Oxana Schmidt

Despite numerous efforts to promote and address the issue, the proportion of women in technical professions remains low. During the week of the International Women’s Day, the NEFI Innovation Network will highlight successful female technicians. They are NEFI project managers or are pushing the decarbonisation of industry with their know-how and expertise.

Just because one day is not enough for us, we are celebrating one week long all of the incredible Role Models and are putting a spotlight on seven Role Models from the NEFI Innovation Network to showcase the natural approach of these women to a technical career. Role models are important to create a desire and interest in a career in technology for the following generations.

So, let’s open the curtain for the NEFI Power Women:

Sabrina Dusek

Sabrina Dusek has been working as a research engineer in the Center for Energy at AIT Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH since 2019. She is active in national and international research projects in the field of energy efficiency and modelling of industrial processes and high-temperature heat pumps. After completing her master’s degree in mechanical engineering at the Vienna University of Technology, she began her doctoral studies in the technical sciences of mechanical engineering at the TU Wien. Sabrina Dusek has been successfully leading the NEFI-project LEAP (Low Pressure Steam Heat Pump) since February 2021. In this project, steam-generating heat pumps are to be demonstrated in two industrial processes.

We have asked Sabrina Dusek:

What fascinates you about your profession? What drives you? What motivates you?

”It fascinates me in my job how, through modelling and discussions with colleagues, complex relationships suddenly become understandable and simple. These moments of clarity motivate me and drive me on. I am happy to contribute with my work to the decarbonisation of industrial processes and thus to a better “greener” future.”

Sabrina Dusek
Project Manager LEAP,
Research Engineer in the Center for Energy,
AIT Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH

Regina Hemm

Regina Hemm has been with the AIT Center for Energy since 2019 as a Junior Research Engineer. After completing her bachelor’s degree in technical physics at the Vienna University of Technology, she obtained the title of Diplomingenieurin in 2018 in the field of physical energy and measurement technology. She is working on flexibilities with a focus on prosumer flexibility and how they can be offered on electricity markets, e.g. on spot and control energy markets, or how to use flexibility for grid-related purposes. For this purpose, she carries out mathematical modelling and the optimization of timetables. In the NEFI project Industry4Redispatch, as an expert for the flexibility of industrial plants, she develops concepts on how to use flexibilities for redispatch, including the necessary DSO-TSO communication.

We have asked Regina Hemm:

What fascinates you about your profession? What drives you? What motivates you?

”The climate change and the energy transition affect us all, so I am pleased to be able to contribute to the associated developments as part of my research work. It is fun to be confronted with complex problems and innovative topics again and again, where both the tasks and the applied methods are really varied. Moreover, I also find the collaborations within various interdisciplinary (project) teams particularly exciting.”

Regina Hemm
Junior Research Engineer in the Center for Energy,
AIT Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH

Marie-Theres Holzleitner

After completing her law studies at the Johannes Kepler University with a focus on international law, Marie-Theres Holzleitner has been working at the Energy Institute of the JKU Linz since October 2015 and deals with legal and regulatory issues from European and Austrian energy law, especially in the areas of industrial waste heat utilization, district heating systems, certification systems, data sharing, energy communities and data protection. Since 2020 she has been project coordinator for several national funding projects. She is currently completing her doctoral studies in law at the JKU Linz on the topic of the current legal framework for waste heat utilization in Austria. She works on the NEFI projects Gmunden High Temperature Link R&D, InduGrid – Industrial MicroGrids and Heat Highway and analyses the legal differentiation of renewable energy sources compared to waste heat, the legal possibilities for the construction and operation of high-temperature process heat lines or the feed-in possibilities of waste heat into existing district heating networks.

We have asked Marie-Theres Holzleitner:

What fascinates you about your profession? What drives you? What motivates you?

”The biggest motivation in my job is the constant challenge. In every project we try to solve new and exciting tasks. Due to the multidisciplinary of our institute, you are constantly immersed in different fields of science, learn new things and can therefore constantly develop yourself further. I am also proud to be able to contribute with my work to the energy transition.”

Marie-Theres Holzleitner
Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin, Projektkoordinatorin Energieinstitut an der Johannes Kepler Universität Linz

Sophie Knöttner

Sophie Knöttner has been working for the AIT Center for Energy, since 2017 as doctoral fellow and since 2020 as research engineer with a focus on efficiency in industrial processes and systems. In her dissertation she deals with (cost) optimized operation of industrial energy supply systems. She built up a profound knowledge base in the field of energy-related optimization approaches and the energy supply for industrial production processes. She worked on potential future development paths in the Austrian production sector regarding digitalization and decarbonization measures and on challenges due to the adaption of this sector to the transition of the energy sector (i.a. in the NEFI-projects EDCSproof und Industry4Redispatch). Sophie holds a master’s degree in Industrial Energy Technology of Montanuniversität Leoben and a bachelor’s Degree in Technical Physics of the Vienna University of Technology.

We have asked Sophie Knöttner: What fascinates you about your profession? What drives you? What motivates you?

”What fascinates me about my job is the opportunity to take an active part in energy transformation. I am excited by how the interplay of many perspectives and the collaboration with colleagues from different scientific disciplines can lead to new solutions and paths.

My contribution to the energy transition is to identify opportunities that climate-friendly industrial energy systems offer and to help shape transformation paths. The energy transition is important to me because it represents creating, treading on and realizing an ecologically, socially and economically compatible new path for all sectors.”

Sophie Knöttner
Research Engineer in the Center for Energy
AIT Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH

Christine Öhlinger

Christine Öhlinger studied law at the Johannes Kepler University Linz, she completed postgraduate training in energy and environmental consulting, and studied journalism and English at the University of Vienna. As business unit manager for international tasks at the OÖ Evergiesparverband, she manages EU projects in the fields of energy efficiency and renewable energies. This includes editing specialist publications, but also holding seminars and workshops with a focus on decarbonisation, e-mobility, photovoltaics, lighting and energy contracting.

Christine Öhlinger has been actively involved in the development of the NEFI Innovation Network from the start, and she is operationally responsible for the NEFI activities of the Energy Saving Association. Christine Öhlinger is responsible for dissemination in the NEFI research project InduGrid – Industrial MicroGrids.

We have asked Christine Öhlinger: What fascinates you about your profession? What drives you? What motivates you?

”I enjoy every day that I can take an active role in the energy transition and, above all, strongly contribute to its actual implementation. After more than 20 years in this field, I am still fascinated by its diversity. There are always exciting new things to learn and implement.”

Christine Öhlinger
Geschäftsfeldleiterin Internationale Aufgaben
OÖ Energiesparverband

Vanessa Zawodnik

Vanessa Zawodnik completed the course “Geography” at the University of Vienna before her path led to the Montanuniversität in Leoben. After completing her bachelor’s degree in “Industrial Energy Technology”, she completed the associated master’s degree with distinction in 2021. During her studies, she worked as a student assistant in the fields related to the generation of green gases and her fascination with research began. Since 2021 she has been working as a scientific project assistant and doctoral student at the Chair of Energy Network Technology and is responsible for the NEFI project DSM_OPT – Demand Side Management: Operation Optimization Of Industrial Energy Systems, which deals with the decarbonization of energy-intensive industrial processes. In addition to project management, her fields of activity include data preparation and analysis, process modelling or digital twinning and operational optimization using demand side management for the increased integration of renewable energy sources in industry.

We have asked Ms. Zawodnik: What fascinates you about your profession? What drives you? What motivates you?

”I believe that each of us has a responsibility to do our part for a sustainable future. The transformation of the energy system as part of the energy transition is one of the greatest challenges of our time. Through my professional activity, I am part of this development and make the world a little bit better – for me personally that is the best motivation.”

Vanessa Zawodnik
Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin
Lehrstuhl für Energieverbundtechnik
Montanuniversität Leoben

Magdalena Teufner-Kabas

At the end of her studies of renewable energy at the University for Applied Life Sciences Vienna and the Technical University of Munich, Teufner-Kabas worked 5 years at the Austrian Institute of Technology on the utilization of carbon dioxide (CO₂) to produce chemicals. In 20215 she founded kleinkraft. Kleinkraft support companies to profit from the energy transition.

Realization of efficient solutions was always very important to her. Investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy must be technical feasibility and suited for the company, the key to success is the economic feasibility. Therefore, they combine technical consulting with the fitting funding project or the fitting research project.

Ms. Teufner-Kabas and her team are pleased to be part of the Energy Model Region “NEFI – New Energy for Industry” and to demonstrate solutions for an active contribution of the industry to the energy system in the NEFI projects EDCSproof and Industry4Redispatch.

We have asked Ms. Teufner-Kabas: What fascinates you about your profession? What drives you? What motivates you?

„Die Energiewende ist unglaublich vielseitig. Ich liebe meine Arbeit, sie ist herausfordernd und voller neuer Projekte und Lösungen. Gemeinsam mit Betrieben arbeiten wir an der Umsetzung von Prozess- und Energieoptimierungen, um Energie einzusparen oder mit erneuerbaren Energien zu versorgen. Das macht jeden Tag spannend und abwechslungsreich. Dekarbonisierung in der Industrie ist so wichtig wie noch nie. Der derzeitige Energiepreis zeigt uns wie abhängig unser Energiesystem von einzelnen Versorgern ist. Hier sind vielseitige und vor allem dezentrale, erneuerbare Lösungen gefragt.

Projekte für Energieeffizienz und erneuerbarer Energien müssen neu bewertet werden. Nicht nur im Hinblick auf die aktuelle Energiepreisentwicklung – bei der Entwicklung von Energieprojekten muss mehr Fokus auf Versorgungssicherheit gelegt werden.“

Magdalena Teufner-Kabas
Expertin für Energieeffizienz und erneuerbare Energien
Kleinkraft OG