by Linda Bertelsen

This podcast episode is for all the women and people whose identity includes womanhood who have ever experienced imposter syndrome walked into a room and realised they were the only woman in it. Or put on an enormous pair of safety goggles and hoped no site visit photographs would be taken. It is also for anyone who wants to know more about experiences being a woman in the heat networks industry or who wants to help champion diversity. Whoever you are, we hope this makes you feel a little less alone and a little more included.


Charlotte Owen
Head of Policy and Local Partnerships
Rachel Mills
Co-founder and Director of SE2, Cofounder of DH Divas
Kamma Eilschou Holm
KH Relations, Founder of DH Divas Scandinavia

In this podcast episode, I take over from your usual host, Morten Jordt Duedahl, to talk about the important topic of gender diversity in the heat networks industry. I am joined by two fantastic women, Rachael Mills of SE2 and founder of the District Heating Divas, and Kamma Eilschou Holm, Director of CTR, a heat network transmission company in Copenhagen.

In September, I stood on a conference stage in front of 130 people in the heat networks industry, and I realised I knew almost all the women standing before me. This was not a particularly hard feat – there can only have been thirty of us. Those I did not know actually came up to me and spoke to me after the event. This isn’t unusual. 

If I consider why I sometimes seek out other women at events, I think it’s because the social and professional context feels more natural and easy to navigate. Like speaking a language, you already know.

Gender and diversity in the district heating industry

For me, it is important to look around a busy room and see yourself represented; it helps me feel more included – more like I belong there. Non-binary people and people from other diverse backgrounds and circumstances will also experience inclusion, representation, and belonging in other ways. It’s great to see groups like ‘Diverse Heat Networks’ springing up, with the support of major industry players in the UK, to ensure better representation across all aspects of diversity.

It is so important that people of all genders, ethnicities, abilities, and ages have a sense of belonging in our industry if we want to have a happy workforce and a workforce that can harness the benefits of diversity. In an industry that needs to keep pace with the innovation in other low-carbon heating arenas and continue to grow, our workforce has never been more important. We should be investing in it every day. That sense of belonging is what is cultivated by groups like the District Heating Divas.

Gender diversity is important for businesses and consumers too. Including women brings different perspectives, helps drive innovation, and brings more money for organisations. When you start to dig into it, gender issues are pervasive, from everything to your safety at work through to your team’s performance. For example, the Trades Union Congress in the UK did a study into PPE and found that more than half (57%) of the women that took part in the survey said their PPE some times or significantly hampered their work.

The District Heating Divas UK is open to women and anyone whose identity includes womanhood, and rumour has it, it’s expanding to Denmark too… listen to find out more and be sure to sign up! https://www.districtheatingdivas.com/

Charlotte Owen

  • Charlotte Owen is the Principal Energy Policy Advisor at the Royal Danish Embassy in London, where she looks after heat networks and heat decarbonisation policy. Charlotte works as part of a programme called the Energy Governance Partnership (EGP), which aims to support the global green transition by sharing knowledge from Denmark on heating with other governments around the world. The hope is that by sharing experience from Denmark, other countries can expedite the rollout of low carbon heating to support the green transition.
  • Prior to joining the Embassy, Charlotte was the Policy Manager at Water UK, and Policy Manager at the Association for Decentralised Energy, where she led on heat networks.
  • She also sits on the Heat Trust Stakeholder Committee. In her roles, Charlotte has been providing input into the development of heat networks policy, regulation and legislation in Westminster and Scotland.

Rachel Mills

  • Co-founder and Director of SE2, a consultancy helping communities and organisations make a difference in the world of climate change
  • Co-founder of Chirpy Heat, (2019) providing impartial expert advice to not-for-profit heat network operators Co-founder and secretariat for The Heat Network, a peer group for social housing providers to meet and share good practices on their communal and district heating schemes Board member of the Association for Decentralised Energy
  • Co-founder of the District Heating Divas. Recognising the supportive power of women working together, Rachael co-founded the Divas in 2019: it’s now one of the fastest growing diversity and inclusion networks in the UK energy industry, with nearly 400 members. The initiative has already launched regional branches across the UK, the first heat network industry mentorship programme, and a Young Professionals group.

Kamma Eilschou Holm

Prior to starting her firm KH Relation, Kamma held the position as Director of CTR, a heat network transmission company in Copenhagen.

Shortly after meeting with Rachel Mills in this podcast, Kamma founded DH Divas Scandinavia which today has more than 200 members from the Scandinavian countries.

Kamma is a lawyer and has worked in the district heating sector for over 20 years. Before coming to CTR, she worked with the Danish Ministry of Energy, the Danish Utility Regulator, and the Danish District Heating Association.