Happy International Women’s Day to everyone!

I’m Debbie Crosthwaite, Director at Ceiba Renewables. On this special occasion, I’d like to share a brief overview of my journey in the renewable energy and construction industry, along with the experiences and changes I’ve witnessed.

Back in 2010, I found myself working in Hospitality Management, realising that my true passion lay outside the field I had studied – Microbiology and Immunology. As I contemplated my next steps, fate intervened. Duncan, my then relatively new boyfriend and the founder of Ceiba Renewables, faced a setback when a solar PV installation needed rescheduling. Without hesitation, I volunteered for some labour work, and as they say, the rest is history. Over time, I completed various training courses related to renewable energy, energy assessments, and SMSTS (among others), gaining confidence in all aspects of the solar PV installation process.



From the very beginning, I loved being on-site. The physicality of the work, the sense of accomplishment as clients’ systems began generating their own power, the challenges that arose and the problem-solving—all of it fuelled my passion. However, there was one aspect that consistently posed a challenge: I was almost always the sole female presence. In fact, I can’t recall ever working alongside another woman.

Whether this was my own perception or a stark reality, I felt compelled to prove myself from the moment I stepped out of the van. I needed to demonstrate strength, competence, and knowledge. The fear of making a mistake weighed on me—not just for my sake but also because I didn’t want to reinforce the belief that women didn’t belong in construction (even if it was my own internal struggle). Looking back, I realize that while people were often surprised by my presence, they were also supportive and friendly. Over time, I grew comfortable and wholeheartedly enjoyed the work I was doing.

Over the years, I’ve witnessed a positive shift in female representation within the renewables and construction industry. According to statista.com, the percentage of women in construction has increased from 12% to 16.5%. However, there’s still much work ahead to dismantle the barriers that persist for women in this field. Consider the numbers: approximately 1.8 million men are employed in construction in the UK as of the fourth quarter of 2023, compared to 297,000 women. While this upward trend is encouraging, we must continue our efforts to create a more inclusive environment.

Women bring invaluable contributions to the industry through their diverse perspectives, unique experiences, and innovative problem-solving approaches. Their presence fosters innovation and accelerates progress. At Ceiba, we recognise that the renewable energy industry is a driving force for technological change. Furthermore, We strongly believe that a diverse and inclusive workforce is the key to building a sustainable future. We want to lead by example when it comes to workforce diversity but regrettably, we’ve yet to receive a female application for an electrician position. We are committed to changing that.

Fast forward 14 years – Duncan and I are now married with 2 wonderful daughters, and this personal journey gives us an even greater desire to drive change. We want to demonstrate and in-still in our daughters the belief that no path – whether in their careers or otherwise – is closed off to them. I wish they can always see the value they bring and be recognised for the significant contributions they can make to society.

As we celebrate International Women’s Day with the remarkable women at Ceiba Renewables, I encourage all women to embrace their passions, break barriers, and continue making strides in traditionally male-dominated fields. Let’s build a future where gender doesn’t limit our potential, and where every woman feels empowered to thrive.