by Adam Vaughan
Solar electricity project in Ethiopia, Ugandan biomass scheme to prevent deforestation and a Surrey school that halved its electricity consumption among winners of Ashden Awards.
A network of 28 demonstration green "superhomes" and a low-tech greenhouse for growing vegetables in a remote Himalayan region were today presented awards by Prince Charles in an environment competition.
Other winners in the prestigious Ashden Awards for sustainable energy included a solar electricity project in Ethiopia, an innovative Ugandan scheme selling biomass briquettes to prevent deforestation, and a Surrey school that halved its electricity consumption.
The organisers of the awards estimated the 15 prize-winners, who were recognised for UK and international renewable energy and efficiency projects, have globally saved thousands of tonnes of carbon emisisons. Business, schools and charities were among the winners sharing a total prize money pot of £320,000.
Coventry-based Geothermal International won a business award for its work on ground source heat pumps, which extract low carbon heating from pipes buried underground. Kirklees Council in West Yorkshire landed a local authority award for offering free insulation to all households in the region.
In the international categories, a Nicaraguan company won the energy enterprise award for installing more than 400 kilowatt peak (kWp) of solar photovoltaic energy, often in rural areas without a national grid connection. A US-Chinese collaboration to create cheap and efficient wood stoves won the energy champion award.
International development minister Gareth Thomas said: "Projects like these bring real benefits to local communities and clearly demonstrate how clean, renewable energy can help grow local economies, improve people's health and reduce poverty – as well as contributing towards the fight against climate change."
Sarah Butler-Sloss, founder and chair of the Ashden Awards, added: "Our winners are showing that it is not only possible to continue implementing sustainable energy measures in a tough economic climate – it actually makes financial as well as environmental sense."
Prince Charles, who is currently backing an environmental film and book project called Harmony, as well as campaigns to protect rainforests from deforestation, presented the awards. Previous Ashden Award guests have included former US vice-president Al Gore, IPCC chairman Rajendra Pachauri and naturalist Sir David Attenborough, who last week won a lifetime achievement prize in the Observer Ethical Awards.
The full list of 2009 winners:
First Prize: Geothermal International – bringing sustainable heating and cooling into the commercial mainstream
Second prize: Architype – designing energy- and carbon-saving buildings
First Prize: The Sustainable Energy Academy – giving high profile to the enormous carbon savings that can be made from existing buildings and inspiring others to follow
Second Prize: Marches Energy Agency – motivating communities to adopt low-carbon lifestyles
Local Authority Awards
Joint First Prize: Kirklees Council – insulation scheme blankets borough and creates jobs at no cost to homeowners
Joint First Prize: Devon County Council – wind of change harnessed for green gain
Joint First Prize: Ashley CofE Primary School – primary school energy plan inspired by penguins in a pickle
Joint First Prize: Currie Community High School – young people take giant strides to reduce energy use
The Ashden International Award for Avoided Deforestation
Uganda: Kampala Jellitone Suppliers Ltd - for producing non-char biomass briquettes made from agricultural waste. 130 tonnes of briquettes sold every month reduce deforestation and save about 6.1 tonnes of CO2 per tonne of briquettes used.
Ashden Energy Enterprise Award
Nicaragua: Empresa de Comunicaciones, SA (ECAMI) - for installing over 400 kWp of high quality photovoltaic systems in the form of 2,000 solar home systems and 560 larger systems for other services, particularly in rural and off-grid areas.
Ashden Award for improved nutrition
French charity Groupe Energies Renouvelable Environnement et Solidarités (GERES) - working in the Himalayan region of Ladakh. GERES is improving the nutrition of villagers and boosting their income by working with local organisations to help them grow fresh vegetables year-round in simple passive solar greenhouses.
Ashden Renewables for Economic Development
India: Saran Renewable Energy Pvt. Ltd in Bihar, in eastern India - for a gasification system providing 11 hours of power every day (220 MWh a year): a popular, sustainable, and cheap alternative to an unreliable grid supply, saving about 200 tonnes/year of CO2
Ashden Award for electrification of rural areas
Ethiopia: the Solar Energy Foundation - for setting up the biggest solar energy programme in Ethiopia, with over 2,000 small solar systems installed in two villages that are off the electricity grid and a further 8,500 units due to be installed elsewhere in the country by the end of the year.
Ashden Outstanding Achievement Award
International Development Enterprises India (IDEI) - for a simple treadle pump that has lifted more than 750,000 farmers out of poverty. Since winning an Ashden Award in 2006 they have diversified into drip irrigation systems and are selling their products worldwide.
USA/China: Aprovecho Research Center (ARC) based in Oregon, and Shengzhou Stove Manufacturer (SSM) - The scheme produces portable, cheap and efficient fuel-wood stoves in high volume production for global distribution. 60,000 stoves have been sold since 2008, with production capacity now at 50,000 stoves per month.
This piece originally appeared in Climate Progress.