Saturday, 28 June 2008

Behind the scenes at the Awards ceremony

Ever wondered what happened before you turned up at the Ashden Awards ceremony? Here's a few pictures of what was going on beforehand...

The stage is set:
The Awards are ready to be distributed:
Ashden Awards staff are manning the reception desk, waiting for guests to arrive:
and the finalists are setting up their demonstration equipment. Mike Pepler (Ashden Awards team) couldn't resist trying our the Energy Bike!
Of course, soon it all got a whole lot busier, with our guests, Wangari Maathai:
Sir David King:
Anna Ford:
and of course the audience!

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Thursday, 26 June 2008

Brightcove TV covers Ashden Awards

This TV clip covers Grameen Shakti in detail, and includes interviews at the Ashden Awards Imperial College seminar with their founder, Dipal Barua, and Sarah Butler-Sloss, the Executive Chair of the Awards.

Read more about Grameen Shakti's Award-winning work here

Original Brightcove TV clip

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Wednesday, 25 June 2008

An experience of the Ashden Awards

The following post is reproduced from the Big Green Challenge blog.

Vicki Costello writes:

Last night I was lucky enough to attend the Ashden Awards. The evening celebrated the achievements of the shortlisted entrants and generated much inspiration (congratulations to one of our Big Green Challengers - Global Action Plan, who won the UK community project category). The finalist businesses, local authorities, schools and community projects from the UK, Africa, South America, India and China all demonstrated incredible passion and commitment to persisting in their efforts to move the world towards a low-carbon future.

Passion and dogged persistence were two of the crucial traits Nobel Prize winner Wangari Muta Maathai spoke of as being required to make the kind of ambitious projects seen in both the Ashden Awards and the Big Green Challenge work. She also spoke about the small things everyone can do, and urged everyone to take action everyday.

This sense of urgency was also stressed by Sir David King, who painted a powerful and uncomfortable picture of what rising temperatures and sea levels might feel like. He also called for a more consistent and prolific approach to sustainability - urging politicians and businesses in particular to commit to building a sustainable future across all their activities.

I left the Awards with renewed concern about the scale and urgency of the issues we are facing to a greater degree (if you’ll excuse the pun) every day. I also left with a feeling of hope, inspired by the finalists. I feel this sense of hope too as I read through the detailed plans from our Big Green Challengers. There are people, out there with the foresight, ideas, passion and persistence to make change happen. Now that these people and their ideas are being found and slowly recognised, governments, businesses and communities need to work together to understand how these ideas can be scaled - quickly and effectively.

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Friday, 20 June 2008

Global green energy awards – winners announced

The world has a new Energy Champion. Tonight, at an Awards ceremony presided over by Nobel laureate Dr Wangari Maathai, it was announced that the title ‘Energy Champion’ and a prize of £40,000 has been won by Technology Informatics Design Endeavour (TIDE). Six other international schemes were awarded £20,000 each by the UK-based Ashden Awards for Sustainable Energy, to promote replication and expansion of sustainable energy projects.

Many of South India’s small businesses rely on wood as their main source of fuel which causes pollution and deforestation not to mention uncomfortable and dangerous working conditions when boilers and stoves are badly-designed. Building on the excellent track record of stove design at the renowned Indian Institute of Science, TIDE commercialises their designs to provide efficient tailor-made woodstoves and kilns which save at least 30 percent of fuel. To date 110,000 workers enjoy better conditions thanks to the 10,000 products they have supplied, saving around 43,000 tonnes of wood each year. TIDE is developing a range of stoves for large-scale cooking, and working with larger production centres in order to bring the stoves to more customers.

This year’s Outstanding Achievement Award went to Grameen Shakti of Bangladesh. The organisation has made a significant contribution to the spread of sustainable energy solutions – to date it has installed 160,000 solar home systems and is adding around 8,000 new systems each month. Since winning an Ashden Award in 2006 it has diversified into the provision of fuel-efficient stoves, which improve living conditions and save fuel; and domestic biogas systems which bring clean sustainable energy to thousands more.

Sarah Butler-Sloss, founder and chair of the Ashden Awards said:

“This year’s inspirational winners show how sustainable energy technologies can bring benefits to businesses and the environment, whilst also dramatically improving people’s lives. They show how these technologies can be mainstreamed and scaled-up. They show us the future.”

Accepting the Ashden Award on behalf of TIDE, Svati Bhogle said:

“The Ashden Award is not just an acknowledgement of past success; it is the acceptance of a responsibility and gives us the motivation to venture into uncharted terrain, to first break new ground and then develop it into a beaten track.

“There is a serious energy crisis in rural India, but access to energy and its efficient use, accompanied by well-conceived and well-implemented enabling mechanisms, has the potential to transform rural areas,” Ms Bhogle added.

Dr Wangari Maathai, the 2004 Nobel Peace laureate, said:

“We are here tonight to celebrate these wonderful energy pioneers, who are responding to the needs of their communities. They have decided to take action in the face of huge challenges, displaying not just patience and persistence, but a sense of urgency and determination. We salute these sustainability champions and the Ashden Awards, who help to make their work better known so that they can continue to inspire others.”

His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, Patron of The Ashden Awards, personally congratulated the winners at a separate meeting. A Clarence House spokesperson said:

"The Prince of Wales was deeply encouraged to learn of the solutions demonstrated by the Ashden Awards that can reduce our dependency on a carbon economy. His Royal Highness was particularly impressed by the local sustainable energy initiatives recognised and promoted by the Awards, which not only meet the needs of communities, but tackle climate change and further sustainable development."

The other winners were from Brazil, China, Ethiopia, India, Tanzania and Uganda.

Four UK Ashden Awards were also made, for pioneering approaches to sustainable energy use across the UK by schools, local government, businesses, and voluntary organisations.

The international winners are:

Brazil, Cooperativa Regional de Eletrificação Rural do Alto Uruguai Ltda (CRERAL)

Cooperative uses mini hydro to increase electricity supply on local grid
Tired of regular power cuts, members of CRERAL, a regional electrification co-operative, decided to invest in two small, local hydro-electric plants instead of buying all their electricity from large hydro and fossil-fuelled plants elsewhere. CRERAL is a co-operative which supplies electricity via the grid to 6,300 mainly rural customers in the south of Brazil.

China, Renewable Energy Development Project (REDP)

Bringing affordable, high-quality solar lighting to rural China
Since 2001, REDP has enabled sales of over 402,000 photovoltaic (PV) solar-home systems to yak and other herding communities in remote areas of western China. Most previously relied on kerosene, butter lamps and candles for light. Around 1.6 million people, many of whom live in tents for at least part of the year and previously had little access to electricity, now have an improved quality of life through better light, communications and entertainment.

Ethiopia, Gaia Association

Clean, safe ethanol stoves for refugee homes
17,000 people live in the Kebribeyah refugee camp, having fled conflict in bordering Somalia, and they rely on fuelwood for cooking. The Gaia Association has provided ethanol-fuelled stoves to 1,780 refugee families, enabling clean, comfortable cooking and preventing wood use. Women no longer have to spend long hours collecting fuelwood outside refugee camps, where they were frequently attacked, and there is extensive deforestation. The ethanol is produced from locally-available molasses, a sugar by-product which previously caused pollution.

India, Aryavart Gramin Bank

Bank helps customers to buy solar home systems
The Aryavart Gramin Bank in Uttar Pradesh used solar photovoltaic (PV) systems to back-up the unreliable grid power for some of its branches, and recognised the potential of PV for its many off-grid customers. The bank set up a bulk supply and installation agreement with TATA-BP for PV solar-home-systems, and provides loans for its customers with a good credit record to purchase the systems. To date 20,000 loans have been approved and 10,000 solar-home-systems installed.

Tanzania, Kisangani Smith Group

Blacksmiths develop wood-saving stoves
To complement its work in training blacksmiths and in reforestation, the Kisangani Smith Group, run by volunteers, has developed two types of efficient biomass stove which can be hand-made by local smiths. One stove replaces the widespread use of charcoal in towns: it burns sawdust (readily available as a waste in the Njombe region of Tanzania) or agricultural residues. The other stove is an improved wood-burner, targeted at rural areas. Over 3,500 stoves have been sold by the Kisangani Smith Group and its trainees.

Uganda, Fruits of the Nile

Solar drying business links rural farmers with export markets
Fruits of the Nile, a local company in southern Uganda, is helping small farmers harness the power of the sun to dry and export fruit that is surplus to local demand. Fruits of the Nile produces and exports about 120 tonnes/year of high-quality dried banana and pineapple from its factory in Njeru. The fresh fruit is prepared and dried in simple solar driers by 120 producer groups in rural areas: these groups buy fruit from over 800 farmers and employ about 500 labourers. Fruits of the Nile currently operates to fair trade standards and, through rigorous training, monitoring and quality control, is converting the whole supply chain to organic production.

Go to the Ashden Awards website for more details

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UK winners of world’s leading green energy prize announced

The UK winners of the world’s leading green energy awards were announced last night, in recognition of their ground-breaking work in addressing fuel poverty, cutting carbon emissions and making renewable energy more accessible.

With escalating fuel prices and widespread concern over climate change, the inspiring work of these charities, companies, schools and local authorities shows how high levels of CO2 from heating, lighting and powering buildings can be reduced, and give savings on fuel bills. This year’s Ashden Awards winners are rolling out energy efficiency schemes for homes, saving energy in workplaces, boosting the market for renewable energy and making their schools sustainable.

The UK winners were presented with their prizes at the Ashden Awards ceremony tonight at the Royal Geographical Society in London, alongside prize-winners from Africa, Asia and Latin America. Handing out the awards, Sir David King, former chief scientific advisor to the government, said: “I’ve had my spirits raised by what I’ve seen here at the Ashden Awards. Climate change is the biggest challenge we have ever had to face. We need individual actions like these.”

The Ashden Awards is a UK-based charity that works to increase the use of local sustainable energy worldwide. They find, reward, and publicise the work of leading sustainable energy programmes working in the UK and across the developing world.

The UK winners were: Kensa Engineering Ltd – manufacturing easy to install heat pumps; Leeds City Council – saving around 88,000 tonnes a year of CO2 through its energy efficiency work; Global Action Plan – training workplace teams to get energy-saving messages across to over 86,000 employees; and Ringmer Community College – saving over £14,000 a year through energy saving and using renewable energy.

This year’s ‘Energy Champion’ is awarded to an organisation in South India that is transforming small businesses by encouraging them to use safer and cleaner energy-efficient woodstoves and kilns. Technology Informatics Design Endeavour (TIDE) has revolutionised life for thousands and improved the environment.

The 2008 Outstanding Achievement Award went to Grameen Shakti of Bangladesh, which has made a remarkable contribution to the spread of sustainable energy solutions. To date it has installed 150,000 solar home systems and is adding around 5,000 new systems each month. Since winning an Ashden Award in 2006 it has diversified into the provision of fuel-efficient stoves, which improve living conditions and save fuel, and domestic biogas systems which bring clean sustainable energy to thousands more.

The UK 2008 winners were:

Schools category: Ringmer Community College, East Sussex, has 200 of its 800 secondary pupils opting to be badge-wearing ‘eco reps’. Departments which waste or consume too much energy are named and shamed and their budgets are charged for each offence. Solar panels and a wind turbine are among the green energy measures the school has introduced. The judges said the award was given to Ringmer “for showing that, when secondary pupils are given real responsibility for sustainability, the benefits are enormous, both within the school and beyond.”

Local Authority category: Leeds City Council, the second largest local authority in the UK has a long and impressive record of energy efficiency housing initiatives, particularly cavity wall and loft insulation, and efficient gas boiler installation. The council is over two-thirds along the way to the 2011 target of 30 per cent savings in household energy use. The council was commended by the judges for “a sustained commitment to energy efficiency which has significantly reduced fuel poverty and cut carbon emissions in a large local authority.”

Energy Business category: Kensa Engineering, a thriving business based in Cornwall producing ground source heat pumps. The company supplies kits for small-scale heat pumps that a non specialist can install, with a ‘slinky’ pipe collecting heat from the ground that an electrical compressor pumps into an indoor space. The award, said the judges, “reflected the company’s success in manufacturing an effective, high-quality sustainable technology for a wider, non-specialist market, and creating local jobs in a deprived area.”

Charity and Community category: Global Action Plan, based in London, is a charity that works with teams of ‘Environment Champions’ in workplaces to help them reduce their carbon emissions through behaviour change. The programme is so far saving over 3,000 tonnes a year of CO2 in direct energy savings and a further 9,300 tonnes a year from waste reduction (enough to fill about 45,000 bendy buses each year). The charity’s “success in motivating employees to change their behaviour at work and home” was cited by the judges.

Second prizes were awarded to:

Local Authority: Arun District Council which has upgraded 99 per cent of its social housing stock with insulation and double glazing, despite a limited budget for sustainable energy work. Staff in the authority’s offices are using posters, quizzes, car pools and office bikes to reduce energy use.

Schools: Sandhills Primary School, Oxfordshire has a pupils’ watchdog energy team to help the school caretaker minimise energy consumption for heat and light. Pupils organise competitions and they helped raise funds for the wind turbine.

Business: Dulas, mid-Wales an employee-owned company, Dulas has been pioneering renewable energy technology for over 25 years. They design and install small hydro-power schemes, solar photovoltaic systems, wind turbines, and wood-fired heating. They have also designed and sold a life-saving solar-powered refrigerator for storing vaccines in developing countries.

Charity and Community: Energy Agency, South Ayrshire is using part of the profits from a wind farm to help those on low incomes in rural areas to draught proof and insulate their lofts and cavity walls and help reduce crippling winter fuel bills.

HRH The Prince of Wales, Patron of The Ashden Awards, personally congratulated the winners at a separate meeting. A Clarence House spokesperson said: "The Prince of Wales was deeply encouraged to learn of the solutions demonstrated by the Ashden Awards that can reduce our dependency on a carbon economy. His Royal Highness was particularly impressed by the local sustainable energy initiatives recognised and promoted by the Awards, which not only meet the needs of communities, but tackle climate change and further sustainable development."

Sarah Butler-Sloss, Executive Chair of the Awards, said:
“Each winner can be proud of their work to safeguard our shared future. We hope they can inspire others – whether they are young people, companies or other organisations – to follow the sustainable energy path.”

Currently around 40 percent of the UK’s carbon dioxide emissions come from heating, lighting and powering buildings and around 4.5 million people are living in fuel poverty, a figure that is growing.

Go to the Ashden Awards website for more details

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Thursday, 5 June 2008

Sunlabob and Practical Action win UNEP Sasakawa prize

Two of the 2007 Ashden Award winners, Sunlabob and Practical Action, have been awarded the 2008 Sasakawa prize by the United Nations Environment Programme.

From the UNEP press release:

The UNEP Sasakawa prize, worth $200,000, is awarded yearly to individuals or institutions who have made a substantial contribution to the protection and management of the environment. The winners, who will each receive $100,000, were chosen by a five-member jury from a shortlist of six projects at a meeting in Tokyo.

The Prize acts as an incentive for grassroots environmental efforts that are sustainable and replicable. It recognizes extraordinary initiatives from around the world that make use of innovation and groundbreaking research and ideas and empower people at the local level.

This year's theme for the award was 'Moving towards a low carbon economy', the theme of World Environment Day 2008. The shortlist included four other outstanding projects bringing clean energy to thousands of people, from families in the Philippines to rural households in South India and prisons in Rwanda.

Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director, said: "Addressing the monumental energy challenge of the 21st century involves practical projects at ground level that bring tangible changes to the way people live. Sunlabob and Practical Action are showing tremendous leadership in bringing clean energy to remote communities in Peru and Lao PDR, and in doing so they are setting further examples of the energy alternatives available to the developing but also the developed world."

Click here to read more about the Sasakawa Prize

Click here to read more about the Ashden Awards

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