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Indian firm wins prize for solar lighting

D Light Design of India was selected as the overall Gold Award winner in the 2010 Ashden Awards for Sustainable Energy.

The firm received £40,000 for its design, manufacture and promotion of solar lanterns across the developing world. The judges noted the company’s effective marketing strategy that has put solar lighting within reach of one million people in 32 countries “with significant potential for further expansion.”

In addition to the Gold Award, the Ashden Awards for Sustainable Energy selected five international winners which received £20,000 each in prize money for their pioneering work in benefitting communities and saving thousands of tonnes of CO2 through the innovative use of sustainable energy technologies.

“These award winners are champions at delivering practical ways of protecting our planet and its precious biodiversity through the use of sustainable energy,” Sir David Attenborough said at the awards ceremony in London. “They are reducing carbon emissions and protecting local eco-systems, while improving the lives of the people they touch. They deserve to be celebrated for their important role in tackling both climate change and poverty.”

Renewables a key element of awards

“Our 2010 winners are living proof of the significant contribution that local sustainable energy initiatives can make to tackling poverty, lack of access to resources and the threat of climate change,” said Sarah Butler-Sloss, founding director of the Ashden Awards. “We are delighted that we can highlight the work of these pioneering projects in the hope that decision-makers across the globe will be inspired by what can be achieved through the strategic use of simple, yet innovative technologies.”

The international winners:

  • CRELUZ, Brazil for “creating a safe, clean and reliable electricity supply for rural communities in the southern Brazil through the used of micro-hydro power and for dramatically improving the lives of the local population.”
  • TECNOSOL, Nicaragua for “offering new opportunities to people in off-grid communities across Nicaragua through the expansion of solar PV and other renewable energy options and for its hugely successful marketing strategy which has ensured that solar PV is not only on offer across Nicaragua but also in neighbouring countries.”
  • Sky Link Innovators, Kenya for “popularising the use of biogas as a viable source of fuel in order to protect Kenya’s disappearing forests and for providing rural communities with access to a clean, cheap and safe alternative for cooking.”
  • Rural Energy Foundation, Sub-Saharan Africa for “expanding and increasing the take up of solar energy and for creating jobs and providing access to electricity for thousands of remote rural households.”
  • Ministry of Agriculture & Rural Development and SNV, Vietnam for their partnership which has “enabled the distribution of biogas technology across Vietnam on a massive scale in a way that is both sustainable and has the potential for further expansion.”

Over the past decade, winners of the Ashden Awards have improved the lives of 23 million people around the world and displaced the emission of 3 Mt of CO2 each year. The 2010 international winners alone have displaced 250,000 t of CO2 in the last 12 months.

Awards to UK firms

The Ashden Awards also presented awards to six UK firms:

  • The Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust, Scotland (UK Gold Award winner), an island community that has “embraced self sufficiency and a radical green lifestyle by carefully managing its energy use, actively encouraging energy-saving in everyone’s daily life and generating 90% of its electricity through renewable energy” from hydro, wind and solar energy.
  • Northwards Housing, Manchester, a scheme that has given 70% of North Manchester’s social housing an energy efficiency overhaul.
  • Suffolk County Council, Ipswich, for helping local schools switch oil-fired boilers to wood-fired boilers and boosting Suffolk’s supply chain for biomass fuel through sustainable forestry.
  • Willis Renewable Energy Systems, Belfast, for its Solasyphon plumbing innovation that speeds and simplifies the retro-fitting of solar water heating, saving the cost of buying a new water tank.
  • Okehampton College, Devon, where students, staff and governors are heading towards carbon neutrality with an array of energy-saving activities.
  • St Columb Minor, Newquay, Cornwall, for reducing energy use by making eco pledges, generating energy with wind and solar, and giving their building a green overhaul with £120,000 of funding.

The Ashden Awards for Sustainable Energy were founded in 2001 to encourage the greater use of sustainable energy to address climate change and alleviate poverty. They have rewarded 140 winners across Britain and the developing world for best practice, and encourage the expansion and replication of winners’ work, raise awareness of the potential of local sustainable energy, and advocate on their winners’ behalf.

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Bioenergy  •  Energy efficiency  •  Energy infrastructure  •  Photovoltaics (PV)  •  Solar electricity  •  Solar heating and cooling  •  Wind power