Friday, 31 October 2008

Award winning stoves feature in DFID magazine

Two past Ashden Award winners feature in the Developments magazine, published by DFID:

A pioneering range of wood stoves and kilns in South India, which save at least 30% of fuel, have been crowned “2008 Energy Champion” at the annual Ashden Awards for Sustainable Energy.
Many of South India’s small businesses rely on wood as their main source of fuel, which causes pollution and deforestation as well as uncomfortable and dangerous working conditions when boilers and stoves are badly-designed. Building on the track record of stove design at the renowned Indian Institute of Science, TIDE commercialises their designs to provide efficient tailor-made wood stoves and kilns cutting fuel by at least a third.
The Ashden Awards Outstanding Achievement gong went to Grameen Shakti of Bangladesh, an organisation which has made a big contribution to the spread of sustainable energy solutions. So far it has installed 160,000 solar home systems and is adding around 8,000 more 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. It also produces domestic biogas systems which bring clean, sustainable energy to thousands more.
The full story is available here, and further details on the two winners are at the following links:

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Thursday, 30 October 2008

The Oil Crunch: Securing the UK’s energy future

The UK Industry Taskforce on Peak Oil & Energy Security (ITPOES), which includes:

  • Arup
  • FirstGroup
  • Foster and Partners
  • Scottish and Southern Energy
  • Solarcentury
  • Stagecoach Group
  • Virgin Group
  • Yahoo!
has published its first report on Peak Oil, with a foreword by Lord Oxburgh (Former chairman of Shell). The report is available for download from Arup here.

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Wednesday, 29 October 2008

AID Foundation to open 'Techno Park'

AID Foundation won an Ashden Award in 2007 for their work with ram pumps, supplying water to remote villages. They are now opening their 'Techno Park':

A Techno Park of the Alternative Indigenous Development Foundation Inc. will mark its opening day with the theme: “A Showcase of Alternative Technologies in Harmony with Nature and People,” at the AIDFI compound in Mansilingan, Bacolod City, Nov 8

To be showcased are the hydraulic ram pump, hydro power systems, models of water pumps, piggery with built-in bio-gas supply for cooking, stainless built-essential oil distiller, organic tilapia fish pond, contoured mini-rice-paddies, vermi-composted organic fertilizer, some rare plants and a nursery of fruits and some endemic species of trees.
Read the full story here

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Earth on course for eco 'crunch'

The BBC reports:

The planet is headed for an ecological "credit crunch", according to a report issued by conservation groups.

The document contends that our demands on natural resources overreach what the Earth can sustain by almost a third.

The Living Planet Report is the work of WWF, the Zoological Society of London and the Global Footprint Network.

It says that more than three quarters of the world's population lives in countries where consumption levels are outstripping environmental renewal.

This makes them "ecological debtors", meaning that they are drawing - and often overdrawing - on the agricultural land, forests, seas and resources of other countries to sustain them.

The report concludes that the reckless consumption of "natural capital" is endangering the world's future prosperity, with clear economic impacts including high costs for food, water and energy.

Read the full story here

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Monday, 27 October 2008

Community Channel showing Ashden Awards films

Over the next few days the Community Channel will be showing a selection of the 2008 Ashden Award winners. Details of the schedule are here:

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Climate Change: the cost of inaction

This is a guest post by Simon Brammer, UK Programme Manager for the Ashden Awards.

Yesterday, I attended a conference in Edinburgh, Climate Change: the cost of inaction. Preparing to adapt our ways and manage Scotland's climate risk.

On my way up to Scotland I sat next to a Dentist who asked me where I was going and why. He believes climate change doesn’t exist; “It’s a government conspiracy to raise more tax” - and that climate change had happened before and the earth survived then. Indeed, he is right, if you go far enough back that is – it’s just that this time we, with many other diverse species that inhabit this plant, might not, like the dinosaurs, survive this time. No matter how I presented my argument, and whatever tactics I used, he was not convinced. His argument was that any potential challenges to his freedoms – freedom to fly, freedom to drive, freedom to use energy (I pay for it), freedom to consume as much as I like – were not acceptable. I arrived feeling rather de-skilled and de-flated.

However, the conference bucked me up. The main focus was on adaptation – how Scotland was to prepare for the inevitable changes of warming thus far – but as a couple of the speakers powerfully stated – it is a foolish argument to spend just on adaptation and not to put resources into mitigation.

Scotland has already taken the lead and announced 80% greenhouse gas emissions cut by 2050 in its own climate change strategy and Ed Milliband announced, last week, that the rest of the UK would follow suit. This is a good start and might just provide the leadership the rest of the world needs to get our strategies right in the ever decreasing window of opportunity that we have.

However, setting targets is one thing, meeting them is another, especially when they are so far away (2050) and that we are likely to see many more administrations in and out of political office before we get there. Clearly, we need key milestones in helping us meet them. What we also need, as demonstrated by my dentist friend, are huge changes in attitudes and subsequently behaviour if we are to meet this problem head on. Conference speakers argued that a systemic change of how we influence people and organisations (based on our evolving knowledge of social marketing) is essential. More thought on how we change behaviour and how we set good quality legislation is also needed. And, perhaps most immediately important, how we engage in a dialogue about the economic benefits of creating thousands of new green jobs in order to adapt and mitigate to climate change – rather than lose sight of the issues in this economic gloom.

At Ashden we want to play our part and we’re working hard to encourage policy and decision makers in local, regional and national government to engage with our successful award winning practitioners – to learn from their lessons and benefits from their insight – and of course, for energy practitioners to understand the pressures government faces in delivering against the targets set. That way, we might achieve the means to deliver against those targets based on practical examples of what we know already works. Perhaps I’ll invite my new dental friend along next time.

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Thursday, 23 October 2008

ClimateWire blog

One of the Ashden Awards judges, Mike Mason, has recently started a blog on climate issues called ClimateWire. His first post on there is an interesting piece about "biochar", otherwise known as Terra Preta.

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Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Government pledges to cut carbon emissions by 80% by 2050

The Guardian reports:

The government today committed the UK to cutting greenhouse-gas emissions by 80% by the middle of the century in a bid to tackle climate change.

In a move that was widely welcomed by environmental campaigners, Ed Miliband, the new energy and climate change secretary, said that the current 60% target would be replaced by the higher goal in the climate change bill.
Sarah Butler-Sloss, the Executive Chair of the Ashden Awards responds:
It is commendable that yesterday the UK government committed to cutting greenhouse-gas emissions by 80% by 2050 and at the same time supported an amendment, much called for by our Award winning energy practitioners, the creation of 'feed in tariffs'. By allowing small scale electricity producers, such as homes and businesses with solar panels or wind turbines, to sell electricity back to the national grid, we will not only make a substantial contribution to tackling climate change but also, by providing consistency to a developing market, have the potential to create many hundreds of new green jobs in the UK. We hope the government will also implement similar measures that provide incentives for the greater use of local sustainable heating schemes (such as ground source heat pumps, biomass boilers and solar water heaters). Together these measures, supported by a real drive on energy efficiency, would really kick start a thriving green economy.

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Final call for entries

Global green energy awards issue alert to UK and international energy pioneers

The Ashden Awards for Sustainable Energy are seeking entries from inspirational and innovative sustainable energy projects around the world. There are 15 Awards to be won (eight in the UK and seven internationally), and entry is free. The Awards will be presented at a VIP ceremony in London in June 2009. Application forms are online now at

  • Deadline for UK expressions of interest (business, charity, local authority): 28 October 2008
  • Deadline for international expressions of interest: 21 October 2008
  • Deadline for UK schools applications: 2 December 2008
Analysis of 10 previous Ashden Award-winning schemes showed that in 2008 they are reaching nine million people and saving 1.9 million tonnes of carbon emissions – equivalent to the total domestic emissions of more than 700,000 UK citizens.

In the UK, the Ashden Awards is seeking schemes run by local authorities, businesses, and charities/community organisations (including Energy Agencies). Winners in these four categories will receive £30,000 each in prize money for project development, with a second prize of £15,000. There is also a special category for schools. A ‘scheme’ submitted for an award may be the entire work of an organisation or a specific part of the work. Eligible schemes must involve the delivery of sustainable energy at a local level and scale. ‘Sustainable energy’ covers both renewable energy supply (electricity or heat) and reduction of energy demand.

Internationally, the Ashden Awards are looking for local sustainable energy projects based in countries with developing economies. Past winners have used various technologies to deliver a number of benefits to local communities and achieve carbon savings, including fuel-efficient stoves, micro-hydro plants, biogas plants, solar energy systems and water pumps. Many are doing this by boosting local peoples’ income, providing employment or training, installing lighting for schoolwork and even improving women’s status in their community.

Benefits of winning an Ashden Award include:
  • Prize money of up to £40,000 per project.
  • The chance to bring sustainable energy solutions into the international arena.
  • Continuing development support.
  • Engagement with key decision-makers in the sector.
  • A documentary film about the award-winning work. International publicity.

What does it take to be a winner?
The projects must:
  • Be up and running, delivering sustainable energy at a local level for at least one year.
  • Benefit the environment.
  • Be technically rigorous.
  • Have an element of innovation.
  • Make a genuine difference to local peoples’ lives, both socially and economically.
  • Be replicable and help encourage the widespread uptake of local, sustainable energy.

For further information and application forms visit, or email:

Examples of past winners, including short films about their work, are online at

Supporters of the Awards include Ashden Awards Patron HRH The Prince of Wales, Prof. Wangari Maathai, former US Vice-President Al Gore, and Jonathan Porritt CBE.

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Saturday, 18 October 2008

RESET birthday

A new organisation called RESET working on renewable energy, shelter and environment training ( has just celebrated its first birthday. Ben Dixon from the Ashden Awards business support programme went along to speak and offer support for with the important work they’re planning. He gave the “good news” on some of the inspiring solutions provided by our winners scaling up sustainable energy with biogas, well designed clean stoves and solar home systems. We’ll be working together with partners like RESET to bring these solutions to a bigger audience and encouraging more to follow their path.

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Watch out for The Age of Stupid

Coming to a cinema near you early next year is a powerful independent film, The Age of Stupid made by Franny Armstrong (producer of the McLibel film) who has funded her new film using “crowd funding” It’s an amazing rollercoaster ride of emotion, laughs and a hard-hitting message that we all fail to act now at our peril. What’s vital is what happens after people have watched the film and they ask themselves (as they will) – but what can I do? Ashden will be one of the organisations working with the film makers to offer solutions and promote the film’s message as widely as we can so that people know they can act and how.

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Friday, 10 October 2008

Uganda: Sun-drying adds value to Fruit

Fruits of the Nile, a 2008 Ashden Award winner, has featured on

WHEN Angelo Ndyaguma decided to venture into the solar fruit business in 1992, he hardly knew his idea would attract global recognition.

Although it was registered in 1993, Fruits of the Nile (FON) started production in 2007. The company operates in Njeru town, Jinja district and helps small-scale farmers to dry fruits using solar power and to export them.

In recognition of its progress in harnessing solar power, FON recently won a prize of £20,000 (sh65m).
Read the full story on

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Friday, 3 October 2008

Solar power in the Himalayas, Ladakh, Northern India

Ben Dixon, Ashden Awards’ Programme Manager, wanted to share a quick note from his holiday in the Himalayas in Ladakh, Northern India:

I couldn’t get away from sustainable energy even in a remote part of the Indian Himalayas, so thought I would share these photos.

Solar home systems have been spread throughout the Ladakh region through programmes sponsored by the national and state government, international donors, and a number of NGOs (including the 2003 Ashden Award winner Barefoot College). I heard about exciting plans for further roll-out of solar power, and other sustainable energy opportunities including wind and geothermal power. This region has huge energy challenges as it is cut off by snow for half the year, not connected to the national grid, and has little in the way of wood resources. So with the right support and implementation it should be a great sustainable energy success story - watch this space for another Ashden Award!

Solar panel on a traditional Ladakhi roof

Solar powered tent

Solar hot water for visiting trekkers

Solar cooker making tea

Solar lanterns for sale in Leh, Ladakh

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More Indian banks bring solar power to poor customers

Ben Dixon, Ashden Awards’ Programme Manager, recently visited Aryavart Gramin Bank in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India. This bank won a 2008 Ashden Award for their programme of providing loans to rural customers wishing to buy solar home lighting systems:

I’m just back from a really exciting visit to Aryavart Gramin Bank in Lucknow. This forward-thinking rural bank is pioneering a system of affordable loans for poor rural customers that wish to purchase solar home lighting systems. The systems are supplied in partnership with TATA-BP Solar and they have rapidly scaled up to more than 20,000 loans agreed.

This programme is particularly exciting because it doesn’t involve any subsidy – the 5-year credit package means that repayments are equivalent to or less than a household’s energy bills when they use dim, toxic, and dangerous kerosene lanterns. This means the programme has great potential for replication through other rural banks and finance providers across India and elsewhere.

The good news is that since the profile of this programme was raised by its Ashden Award triumph in June 2008, India’s National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) has issued a circular encouraging every rural bank to follow this model, including the following content:

“A UK based charitable trust that works on increasing the use of local sustainable energy worldwide has awarded the bank with prestigious “Ashden Awards”. The Award is an internationally recognised yardstick for excellence in the field of sustainable or green energy ( Shri NK Joshi, then Chairman of Aryavart Gramin Bank received the Award from Dr. Wangari Maathai, the 2004 Nobel Peace winner, at a ceremony held in London on 19/06/2008. Shri Joshi was congratulated by Prince Charles, Patron of Ashden Awards.

We therefore request you to make efforts to replicate the scheme in your area of operation without or with suitable modifications/changes as per the local requirements. NABARD would share 50% of the cost of installation up to a maximum of 20 demonstration units at important places. In addition, NABARD will extend support to the bank for conducting awareness campaigns and organising credit camps etc at Rs 1,000/- per campaign for a maximum of 20 programmes.”
At the request of NABARD, NK Joshi and NC Khulbe, the former and current Chairmen of Aryavart Gramin Bank, went to meet the Indian Finance Minister and the Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank of India, and were given a special award to recognise the success of this programme (see photos below).
Previous and current Chairmen meet the Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank of India

NK Joshi meets the Indian Finance Minister

I was also fortunate to visit the village of Gondwa, 55km from Lucknow, where 250 solar home systems have been financed so far by Aryavart Gramin Bank. Amazingly, this village has had electricity poles and lines for the last ten years, but no power has ever reached them.

We arrived in the evening to a tremendously warm reception from the village – who are clearly very enthusiastic about the opportunity to own a solar system. As it got dark, the impact of this work was particularly striking – the bright light from houses with solar power contrasted with the flickering orange kerosene candles that were barely lighting the rest of the village. We met with shopkeepers who were able to stay open later, women making money embroidering saris under solar lights, children happy to have bright light for their homework, and many other households with lights, mobile phone chargers, fans, TVs, radios and stereos all powered by solar electricity.

The Ashden Award funds will be used to help build the after-sales service system to make sure that any problems with solar systems are quickly fixed, to incentivise bank branches to continue roll-out of the programme, and to promote the programme further in new villages.

New AGB Chairman NC Khulbe

Local shop with solar lights

Solar powered chemist

Ben Dixon with the AGB team

Ben Dixon meets with NC Khulbe from AGB and Amit Kumar from TATA-BP Solar

AGB press conference

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News from AID Foundation

AID Foundation won an Ashden Award in 2007 for their work on ramp pumps to supply water to villages in the Philippines. Auke Idzenga, who accepted the award at the June 2007 ceremony in London updates us on their latest news:

Arrival of machines from Taiwan. As a result of the continued efforts of the Ashden Awards to help AID Foundation Incorporated (AIDFI) scale up its work on the hydraulic ram pump, a company with an office in London sponsored machines that were high on our wish list. The machines are a big lathe, a roller bender and a plasma cutter. These machines will help AIDFI save a lot of money because all metal jobs related to even the big ram pumps can now be done in-house. At the same time AIDFI can use these machines for some outside jobs to support its self-reliant way of operation. The machines will allow the quantity and quality of production to be increased, focusing on ram pumps and some hydro power machines. There is a huge increase in demand for the ram pumps.
Training of new installation teams. Since the Philippines consists of many islands, and the demand for ram pumps keep on increasing, there is a need for installation teams on all the big islands. AIDFI has, since last year, been working hard to set up two new installation teams: one in Mindanao and one in Cebu. The Mindanao team (a mix of Muslim and Christian youths) has been trained in the workshop of AIDFI and as a second step two technicians from AIDFI are training the team with actual ram pump projects right now in Mindanao. Also an engineer from Cebu is staying with AIDFI for a long period to be trained completely in all aspects of ram pump installation, operation and maintenance.

The Afghan ram pump story has moved on. In October 2007 three ram pump installations were set up in Northern Afghanistan, and the latest information is that are all used for their purpose of watering the newly established fruit and nut tree plantations on the slopes of the mountains along the rivers. These ram pumps have triggered a tremendous interest. After a lot of communications and planning, Mercy Corps (an American-British relief agency, active in Afghanistan) has sent three Afghans to the Philippines to be trained in designing, fabricating and installing ram pump systems. The training period is six weeks and will end in October 2008. Two of the team are shop owners, who are already involved in manufacturing and installation of hydro power systems. For them, the ram pump is an ideal extension of their hydro power activities. The third is an engineer of Mercy Corps and will be in charge of identifying sites and designing ram systems. The two shop owners will, after the completion of the training, be given a lifetime license to manufacture the AIDFI ram pump in Afghanistan.

There are also plans in the making for AIDFI to transfer the technology to Colombia.

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Eastchurch Primary School to install wind turbine

Eastchurch Primary School won an Ashden Award in 2006, having established a culture of 'good energy housekeeping'. They already had a 3KWp solar PV array installed, and have now applied for planning permission to install a small wind turbine, as reported in the local newspaper.

Headteacher John Stanford said: "It's a money saver and a potential money earner. The school has got a good track record for sustainable energy and has been successful in a number of environmental initiatives. By next year we are hoping to have the complete package of wind turbines, solar electric, and solar hot water."

Read the full article in the Sheerness Times Guardian

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