Rita Gomes, architect and founder of Seenergy – a Portuguese start-up dedicated to creating innovative, exclusively designed solutions that integrate renewable energy systems (specifically solar energy) into decorative furniture – is the only Portuguese woman on the list of finalists for the European Sustainable Energy Awards 2024.

Based in Porto, the challenge for Rita Gomes’ start-up is to develop a range of economical and ecological furniture capable of harnessing and storing solar energy. “Our mission is to create innovative solutions in which we can apply, on a global scale, the advantages of this solar technology integrated into furniture, thus contributing to a more sustainable and environmentally responsible future,” explains the architect.

At the heart of Rita Gomes’ design is a process for incorporating dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs) into pieces of furniture and household utensils. “This fusion of design and technology makes it possible to create aesthetically beautiful products that not only enrich living spaces, but actually play an active role in reducing the carbon footprint,” says Rita Gomes.


Seenergy uses dye-sensitized solar cells that mimic the process of photosynthesis in plants, converting light into electricity. Unlike ordinary solar panels, solar cells can be used indoors as they don’t need direct sunlight. Once collected, the energy is stored in a battery that is integrated into the furniture pieces and can then be used to charge devices or turn on lights via a USB port.

The European Sustainable Energy Awards (EUSEW Awards) honor people and projects that are outstanding for their innovation and commitment to energy efficiency and renewable energy. The nine finalists were selected by a highly respected jury in three categories: Innovation, Local Energy Action and Women in Energy. The finalists will now be subject to a public online vote, which will be open until June 2, and the winners will be announced during the European Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) Awards ceremony from June 11 to 13, 2024.

“Dye-Sensitized Solar Cell (DSSC) technology makes it possible to transform furniture and household objects into renewable energy sources, offering an innovative solution that will help promote the European Union’s (EU) energy transition towards the use of greener energy,” says the Portuguese finalist.

“We are developing a range of products, including a bedside table that is powered by solar energy, where the entire top is made up of DSSCs technology,” adds Rita.

The young entrepreneur hopes that her example and contribution in this area will inspire the female public so that more and more women take on leadership roles in the energy sector.

“I faced some challenges, mainly related to stereotypes about the role and capabilities of women in technology,” she admits. “These challenges have strengthened my commitment to excellence and reinforced my conviction that innovation and leadership are genderless.”

In November 2023, Seenergy won a first prize of 10,000 euros in the New European Bauhaus category in the final of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology’s EIT Jumpstarter, an initiative that honors great technological innovations that can help Europe tackle some of its most pressing challenges.

The Portuguese architect will invest the value of this award in her ongoing project and, through partnerships she intends to establish with the University of Porto and industry leaders, Seenergy intends to accelerate the development of its concept and products and launch it by next year.

“More than an award, this distinction reflects the validation that our efforts are aligned with the European Union’s objectives in the areas of sustainability and inclusion, and with which we can have a significant impact in this field,” says the finalist.

Rita Gomes is one of the three finalists for the European Sustainable Energy Awards 2024, in the category of Women in Energy. The award honors women who lead innovative projects and activities that, when replicated, can help promote the transition to the use of more sustainable energy sources in Europe. Special attention is given to the female contribution in this initiative, in order to boost gender integration and support equal opportunities in the energy sector.
The other finalists are Françoise Réfabert from France and Karolina Attspodina from Germany.
Françoise has developed an innovative vision in the area of affordable financing for home energy renovations.
Karolina’s mission is to bring solar energy to the balconies of living spaces through DIY kits.

Previous articleMercedes-Benz Trucks sends eActros 600 on most extensive test run in the company’s history
Next articleTG Lynes brings electric truck to London streets