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The Ashden Awards and Leapfrogging Renewables
Alex Steffen, 2 Feb 05

One of the true pleasures of doing this site is the regularity with which we find new, previously unknown (at least to us) allies.

The Ashden Awards for sustainable energy are a great little piece of worldchanging innovation diffusion. They carry sizable prizes (seven first prizes of £30,000, and a number of second prizes of £10,000), too.

Particularly apt are their Overseas awards, which recognize worthwhile models for spreading sustainable energy technologies in the developing world. Their motiviations are right on the money --

"As communities in the developing world face an increasingly difficult battle against deforestation, soil erosion and pollution, the case for renewable energy - especially in areas that have no electricity supplies - becomes ever stronger.

"The Awards recognise that for such communities, renewable energy is not a green luxury: it's often their best hope of breaking out of poverty, giving their children an education, and improving their health and wellbeing. And, crucially, it can do so while reducing local environmental impacts and tackling climate change.

-- and their list of past winners is a beautful snapshot of the cutting edge of NGOs working to distribute renewable energy and energy-efficient technologies more widely, from redesigned cooking stoves (a much needed tool), to barefoot solar engineers and local solar grids in West Bengal:

"The West Bengal Renewable Energy Development Agency (WBREDA) has been working on Sagar Island since 1996 to address the problem of energy supply. Since then it has set up a total of 11 small solar PV power plants, on Sagar Island and its neighbour Maushuni Island. Each plant has its own mini-grid system that distributes electric power to the surrounding villages. The grids are switched on for six hours a day, from 6pm to midnight, and are managed by cooperative societies formed by the villagers that use the power."

This is good, solid worldchanging work. Bravo, Ashden!

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