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Maja Turković – leader of energy transition

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Maja Turković is an energy transition leader, a woman who has devoted much of her 28-year career to renewable energy sources. Through her work on renewable energy projects and in the WISE Serbia women’s network, she not only breaks new ground in the energy sector, but also supports women, paving the way towards an inclusive and sustainable future.

Maja Turković is the Executive Vice President at CWP Europe and co-founder of the WISE Serbia women’s network. Her education in electrical engineering and her impressive career in the public and private sectors make her a prominent figure in the fight for a greener future.

Born into a family of engineers, Maja Turković completed graduate and master’s studies in electrical engineering. She began her career in 1996 at Electrical Engineering Institute Nikola Tesla. She completed her master’s degree in business administration at Imperial College London, and for a time served as an assistant to the Serbian Minister of Mining and Energy.

The beginnings of renewable energy in Serbia

In 2008, when renewables were only just emerging in Serbia, Maja Turković joined the first such projects. “Those were the beginnings of the development of renewables, when we were creating a system to make that development possible – in terms of technology as well as regulations that were supposed to support it. We learned a lot in that process,” she said.

Her work in the renewable energy sector is a result of her desire to help repair the damage that has been done to the planet. “In my opinion, it is a duty to our children and the planet. I have unwavering faith in my work. If you don’t believe in what you do, it’s hard to gain the trust of others,” she added.

At that time, she was also active in the non-governmental sector. “In the beginning, we created the Serbian Wind Energy Association (SEWEA), which was very visible and influential. It had the capacity to present itself as a partner and to explain to decision-makers what the problems were,” said Turković.

The cheapest energy today comes from renewable sources

In the beginning, the price of energy from renewable sources in Serbia was high. At that time, the biggest challenge was how to explain to people that the transition to green technologies comes at a price, according to Turković.

“Serbia caught up at a time when Western Europe had already paid high prices for renewables. In some countries, such as Germany, people were willing to pay more to ensure a green future for themselves and their children,” she explained.

Turković was also part of the Association for Sustainable Development. “We developed various interesting projects aimed at decarbonization and greening. I’ve always believed that we need experts who have the public’s ear and who have something to say, because it is necessary to build public opinion around the green transition so that people can understand that it is not expensive and complicated. Today, the cheapest energy comes from renewable sources,” she points out.

Turković: We need to fight for more women in higher management positions

She says she has found herself in the private sector and emphasizes that she likes working with people. She is now the Executive Vice President of CWP Europe, a leading international investor in renewable energy sources in the Western Balkan region. CWP is currently developing more than 6 GW of capacity in Albania, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Romania, Slovenia, Serbia, Moldova, and Ukraine.

“I lead a very fine team of about 50 people in Belgrade. The largest offices of CWP Europe are in Belgrade and Sofia. We have over 50 percent of women in the team. However, we still need to fight for more women in senior management positions. That is always a bit more difficult to achieve,” said Turković.

Investors don’t like volatility

Turković believes that Serbia is the safest and best regulated market for investing in renewable energy sources in this part of Europe. “Serbia has the best regulatory framework in the region, and it started developing renewables a little earlier than others. It has successfully navigated the learning curve and has a much stronger administrative capacity. Also, it was the first to create a power exchange and enter certain European integration processes, primarily regarding the grid, which made it more advanced compared to other countries,” she says.

Investors don’t like volatility. When it comes to making investment decisions, it is important to have a robust and stable regulatory framework.

Serbia has the political will for further progress in renewables

However, investors still face certain challenges, mainly administrative issues, according to Turković. “Obtaining approvals takes longer than it should. Things rarely happen within the legal deadlines,” she noted.

She points out, however, that Serbia has the political will for further progress. “I would certainly like to see more private investments, more strategic partnerships. Competition is good for everyone. Not so much for investors, but it is good for the state, because it protects the state and makes investors compete. Take auctions, for example. They are good for consumers, because they are the only way to achieve the best prices,” explained Turković.

WISE was created when gender issues were not seen as important

Through her work and involvement in the WISE network, Maja Turković promotes not only renewable energy but also women’s inclusion in the energy sector.

WISE is a wonderful idea from the very beginning. It started at a time when the question of gender was not perceived as important. I’ve always felt that I’m part of a club of some wonderful women who want to change things for the better,” she said when asked what WISE means to her.

Maja Turković is one of the founders of the WISE network, and today she is also a member of its Advisory Board.

Turković supports the mentoring program that WISE Serbia plans to launch and believes it is necessary to invest in young women.

“I would like to see the network expand and women become more visible, both experts in all fields and young women with ideas,” she said.

Turković believes that visibility could be increased through closer ties with institutional partners and through various educational programs such as training and workshops, held by members of the network.

At last year’s conference Women of Serbia in Sustainable Energy – Leadership for the Energy Transition, organized by WISE Serbia, Maja Turković received a Female Leader in Sustainable Energy award in the category of women in business and investment.

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