Translating for the renewable energy sector

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Australia is in the middle of transitioning from fossil-fueled power plants to emission-free renewable energy sources. For this to happen, Australia must focus on developing the use of renewables and strengthening its energy infrastructure. Oil accounted for the largest share of Australia’s primary energy mix in 2017–18, at 39 per cent, followed by coal (30 per cent) and natural gas (25 per cent). Renewable energy sources accounted for 6 per cent. In 2020, the Australian government released a roadmap for the country’s future energy production, acknowledging the opportunities presented by natural gas and clean and renewable energy sources such as hydrogen and solar energy.

With the increasing demand for energy worldwide, the development of renewable energy has become one of the most important issues facing the global community today. In 2018, investment in renewable energy capacity hit USD 272.9 billion, about triple the investment in coal and gas-fired generation combined. The international community has put renewable energy on the agenda and defined clear targets through the Paris Agreement in 2016.

Growing demand for linguistic services

The renewable energy sector is very international and globally driven via cross border investments, international joint research & development and the international expansion of multinational companies. As we know, the international community must be efficient in working together towards a more sustainable future. The success of such a global challenge is based on the ability of all international shareholders and stakeholders to intercommunicate and interact. Language barriers can pose a great obstacle to the efficient communication and cooperation of all interested parties.

The massive growth experienced by the renewables sector has driven the demand for multilingual content and language services such as translation and localisation and interpreting. A growing portion of new multilingual content created in the energy sector is about renewable energies. The language demand from the sector requires specific attention; due to the technicality of concepts within a lot of engineering content, the work must be carried out by technical translators and interpreters who are subject matter experts.

The subject matters related to the renewable energy sector are very diverse and include, but are not limited to:

  • Engineering content
  • Scientific content
  • Geothermal energy
  • Fusion energy
  • Hydrogen
  • Solar energy
  • Solar thermal power
  • Tidal energy
  • Wind power

Examples of documents for the renewable energy sector that often require language translations:

  • Annual reports
  • Datasheets
  • Energy security reports
  • Environmental studies
  • Functional specifications
  • Feasibility studies
  • Health & Safety reports
  • Legal acts
  • Marine ecology studies
  • Ornithological and other wildlife impact studies
  • Resource assessments
  • Technical specifications
  • Wind farm reports

solar power

Addressing the challenges of technical linguistic requirements

Selecting the right vendor

A thorough language vendor selection process is crucial to ensure high-quality translation. Often language providers have to prove their capabilities in translating, localising and interpreting the key technical terminology, abbreviations and phrases common to the renewable energy industry. When selecting your language vendor, you should ensure that they have relevant experience working in your sector and subject matter as well as a good team of technical translators in the languages you are after.


It is good practice once you have selected the right vendor to start the collaboration by creating a termbase with your vendor’s translation team. A termbase or more commonly called glossary is a searchable database that contains a list of multilingual terms and rules regarding their usage. The glossary contains your key terminology in your source language (typically English) and approved translations for that terminology in all your target languages. This tool will help you minimise mistranslations and maintain consistency of technical terms.

Translation memory

A translation memory stores segments of text as translation units (in source and target pairs). A segment can consist of a sentence or paragraph. The translation memory technology allows the reuse of any segment that has already been translated in new translation projects, which prevents the same content from being unnecessarily retranslated multiple times. The result is increased consistency across projects and translation teams. As you develop your multilingual content over time and your relationship with your translation vendor, the translation memory grows bigger and will also enable cost savings.

QA processes

To optimise the translation quality and prevent errors, experienced language service providers have extensive QA processes in place. For technical translations, it often involves having the target material go through an additional review process with the client’s local staff who are experts in the subject matter. This QA process is particularly important at the beginning of the relationship as it will allow you to create high-quality linguistic assets (termbases and translation memories) and lay the foundations for a fruitful partnership moving forward.

2M’s technical expertise in the resources, energy and renewables sector

2M Language Services have a long track record providing technical translation and interpreting services in the resources, mining, oil & gas and renewable energy sectors. As the world is turning to renewables as future sources of energy, 2M is upskilling and growing its linguist teams with subject matter expert translators and interpreters with relevant industry experience. Our team of linguists is specialised in technical and engineering content types, working with some of the world’s largest companies such as BHP & Rio Tinto.

We build specialist linguist teams around our clients’ specific requirements and utilise advanced language technologies to maximise accuracy, consistency and quality. For every client, we create and curate translation memories and technical requirements involving the creation of termbases in cooperation with the client’s team. Our extensive QA processes involve terminology compliance checks, revision of translations against translation memory, up to 2 revision rounds and final in-context QA. 2M is the only Australian language service company holding ISO 17100:2015 certification for translation services.

We have assisted Australian exporters in their global operations since 1999, growing our country into one of the world’s top resources exporters. A successful renewable energy export strategy for Australia requires the ability to speak globally with consistency and high-quality messaging through a strong partnership with the right language service provider.

Some of our publicised work in the renewable energy sector (translations from German into English):

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