Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Ashden Awards Ceremony 2009

Last Thursday night, the event we have all been looking forward to - the Ashden Awards night - took place. This year we had HRH Prince Charles speaking and he gave a forthright speech about the climate change crisis facing us, and his strong admiration for all the finalists lined up for awards. Having been a keen supporter and patron of the awards for many years, he has met many of them individually and taken an interest in their work. This year he presented the awards to each winner, and the school pupils in particular were proud to be able to meet him and talk about their achievements.
We watched a short film about each finalist, heard a brief but powerful speech from each one about their work and then the announcements were made. Wait for it… In the UK first prizes went to Kirklees Council for their free, massive roll-out of insulation; Geothermal International for their large-scale installations of ground source heat pumps for heating and cooling buildings; Ashley CofE and Currie School were awarded jointly for their amazing low carbon approach to all aspects of school life; and the Sustainable Energy Academy showing that older homes can be made low-carbon. Second prizes went to Devon County Council for boosting the green energy sector in the county; Architype for their exceptional design of sustainable buildings and Marches Energy Agency for enthusing local communities to take the low carbon path.

Our international finalists are literally changing peoples’ lives in the developing world – and this year has been no exception. We had programmes bringing electricity to Ethiopian villages for the first time - where only one percent of the population has access to grid electricity – through affordable solar home systems; solar-heated greenhouses in the Himalayas providing vegetables year-round, making for healthier families; a Nicaraguan social business spreading renewable technology throughout the country; a gasification plant using local biomass and bringing a reliable power supply to businesses in Bihar, India; and a Ugandan business producing briquettes out of agricultural waste to replace wood and charcoal, protecting local forests. This year’s Outstanding Achievement Award went to the wonderful IDE in India who are scaling up the production of their simple treadle pumps for irrigation that are lifting thousands of poor farmers in India out of poverty. And last but not least… the overall Energy Champion award went to a remarkable collaboration between the well-known US stove programme, Aprovecho Research Center that is working with Shengzhou Stove Manufacterer in China to boost the volume of high quality, efficient stoves manufactured aiming to reach the millions of poor people in the developing world who need them.

Beyond the giving of these awards, we’re looking forward to working with many of these inspiring organisations over the next year, supporting their expansion and replication in collaboration with investors, businesses, NGO’s, policy makers and other partners, many of whom were at the Ashden Conference last week and the awards night.

You can read more about these fascinating initiatives, and find photos and films about their work at www.ashdenawards.org

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