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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