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Ashden Awards

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The Ashden Awards for Sustainable Energy are annual awards given by a charity of the same name that is based in London. They reward local sustainable energy projects in the UK and developing countries that protect the environment, and improve quality of life.

Sarah Butler-Sloss created the awards in 2001, from the Ashden Trust, one of the Sainsbury family|Sainsbury Family Charitable Trusts.


About the Ashden Awards

The Ashden Awards rewards and promotes excellent local sustainable energy solutions in the UK and the developing world. By rewarding the best, they aim to raise awareness of the huge potential of local sustainable energy to both tackle climate change and improve the quality of people's lives. They aim to encourage its wider take-up across the world.

How the Awards make a difference

The Awards help transform the prospects of sustainable energy in several ways:

  • By giving substantial cash prizes, they help winners take their work forward.
  • By actively promoting the winners and publicising their work through a worldwide media campaign, they aim to inspire others to follow their example.
  • By bringing winners together with key decision-makers and opinion-formers, they aim to change thinking and policy among governments and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) alike.

The Ashden Awards also carries out research into the potential of local sustainable energy to meet the world’s energy needs and tackle climate change, and examine ways of overcoming the barriers to its wider adoption.

The UK Awards

In 2007, the Ashden Awards is offering awards for the UK in the following categories:

  • Renewable energy
  • Energy efficiency
  • Energy business

There will be three first prizes of up to £30,000 each, and three second prizes of up to £10,000 each.

Renewable Energy Award

This award is for organisations such as NGOs, non-profit groups, commercial organisations, Local Authorities and Energy Agencies that have carried out projects or programmes to increase the supply of renewable electricity and/or heat at a local level. Supply can be from renewable sources such as biomass, wind power, micro-hydro, solar power or ground source heat pumps. We assume that any scheme involving renewable energy will also have incorporated appropriate energy conservation measures. Some past award winners relevant to this category include Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council (2006), Moel Moelegan wind farm (2003), South Somerset Hydropower Group (2005) and Kirklees Borough Council (2006).

Energy Efficiency Award

This award is for organisations such as NGOs, non-profit groups, commercial organisations, Local Authorities and Energy Agencies which have carried out projects or programmes to increase the efficiency of energy use, or reduce demand, at a local level. Organisations such as Community Energy Plus (2005), Severn Wye Energy Agency (2006) and the Energy Audit Company (2006) won Ashden Awards for programmes which reached very large numbers of households with insulation and other domestic efficiency measures. We are also interested in programmes which have reduced demand through strategies like smart metering and behavioural change, or building developments demonstrating significant demand reduction.

Energy Business Award

This new award is for successful businesses which have used innovative ways of making local renewable energy and/or energy efficiency products and services more accessible to the public. We are particularly interested in enterprises which have opened up new opportunities, such as bringing to the market new technologies (the technologies need to have a proven track record, having been on the market for at least a year), or using new financial mechanisms for making the technologies more affordable or delivering other mechanisms for making the technologies easily accessible. Previous winners such as Renewable Devices (2005), Second Nature (2005) and Good Energy (2006) have shown the type of entrepreneurial drive which we would like this award to recognise.

The UK Schools Award

The Ashden Awards offers a special award for Sustainable Energy in Schools. This carries a first prize of £15,000, and a second prize of £5,000. It is open to individual schools which have succeeded in making sustainable energy a key part of the practice and culture of the school as a whole.

This Award was made for the first time in 2006 in recognition of the crucial role which schools play in both promoting the need for sustainable energy and demonstrating its practical effectiveness. The Schools Award is open to any UK school (providing education for pupils aged between 5 and 16) that has created a sustainability ethos in which the responsible use and generation of energy is a key component. The joint winners in 2006 were Cassop Primary School, County Durham and Eastchurch Primary School, Isle of Sheppey, Kent.

The International Awards

The International Awards are designed for schemes in the developing world.

Award winners use local renewable energy to reduce poverty, improve people’s health, wellbeing and economic prospects, and at the same time tackle climate change and other environmental threats, notably deforestation.

There are five international awards in total, each with a first prize of £30,000 and a second prize of £10,000.

Prizes will be awarded for schemes which address at least one of the following areas:

  • Food security
  • Health and welfare
  • Light
  • Education
  • Enterprise

One of the five awards will take the form of a Special African Award, reserved specifically for an outstanding scheme from that continent.

Food security

This covers the use of renewable energy in any part of the food supply chain, from growing, processing, storage and cooking, through to marketing and distribution. Past winners of a Food Security Award include: Trees, Water and People (Honduras) and the Escorts Foundation (Pakistan), both of which have developed simple cooking stoves which both saves trees and makes for healthier, less smoky homes and ARTI (India) who developed a compact biogas digester for urban use.

Health and welfare

This covers improvements to health in homes or schools (by reducing smoke from cookstoves, for example), as well as energy for healthcare facilities (including providing lighting, refrigeration, sterilisation and communications). Past winners of a Health and Welfare Award include: Engineers without Borders in Peru, for solar-powered communications systems for remote jungle health centres and GIRA (Mexico) for a programme of improved fuelwood stoves which included detailed research showing the health and environmental benefits of the stoves.


This refers specifically to the provision of clean, efficient portable lamps or fixed lighting for homes or community buildings in often poor and remote areas which are not connected to grid power or for whom mains electricity is unreliable or unaffordable. Past winners of an Award for Light include the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (Pakistan) for micro-hydro schemes which have brought electric light into thousands of homes in remote villages, NEST (India) for a cheap solar lantern making smoke-free lighting available for some of the poorest families and Grameen Shakti (Bangladesh) for installation and finance of solar-home-systems for lighting.


This is principally concerned with the use of renewable energy in schools, either to provide light and power, or for cleaner, more sustainable cooking fuel. It can also apply to schemes which help enhance children's chances of enjoying a decent education outside the school, for example via home study. Past winners of an Award for Education include RETAP (Kenya), which combined the introduction of a highly energy efficient cooking stove for schools with a scheme by which they can grow much of their own fuelwood in the school grounds.


This reflects the important role which businesses can play in delivering renewable energy and encouraging its rapid spread, through viewing it as a business opportunity as well as a social benefit. Past winners of an Award for Enterprise include SELCO-India (India) for building up a thriving business network supplying high-quality solar lighting systems, GERES (Cambodia) for the rapid introduction of an efficient charcoal stove through the existing commercial supply chain, and IDEI (India) for the commercialisation of low-cost treadle pumps for irrigation.

Special African Award

This Award was introduced in 2005, in recognition of the particular challenges which climate change and poverty play in threatening the future of Africa, and the vital contribution which local renewable energy can make in tackling both. Past winners are the Kigali Institute of Science and Technology (Rwanda) for using biogas systems to improve sanitation and supply cooking fuel in large institutions, and the Mwanza Rural Housing Programme (Tanzania) for developing small businesses which produce high-quality bricks fired using agricultural waste.

The Awards Ceremony

The Ashden Awards hold a high-profile awards ceremony at the Royal Geographical Society in London in June, where the finalists present their achievements and receive their awards before an invited audience of politicians, business leaders, and key figures from the environment, development and energy worlds.

Previous hosts include broadcasters John Humphrys and Jonathan Dimbleby and environmental journalist Mark Lynas.

Guest speakers over the last three years include Al Gore, David Attenborough, Hilary Benn, the UK Secretary of State for International Development, Dr RK Pachauri, Chair of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, David Cameron, leader of the Conservative Party and Lord May of Oxford, former Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK Government.

After presenting the prizes at the 2006 ceremony David Cameron commented:

“One of the most encouraging things about politics today is that people are waking up to the reality of climate change and the urgent need to tackle it. As leader of the Opposition, I have no power to pass laws, but there are some things I can do. I can stimulate debate. But it is a real privilege to be able to reward people who are making a difference on the ground. The people and projects we are celebrating today are pioneers in a global quest to save us from the consequences of our own actions.”

Ashden Awards Seminars

The Ashden Awards also holds specialist seminars bringing together Award winners with practitioners, academics, and those who make or influence policy. Examples of recent seminars are:

Awards week technical seminar

During the 2007 Awards week the Ashden Awards their annual Technical Seminar, where the finalists presented their work to an audience of 150 people, drawn from business, government, NGOs and education. The seminar was hosted by Imperial College, and supported by British Gas.

Each presentation started with a short film of the Award-winning work. The winners then summarised their work, focusing on what had made it so successful, and how it could be replicated or developed elsewhere. The seminar was an inspiring summary of a wide range of sustainable energy systems working successfully throughout the world – including biogas in India, gasifying biomass stoves in China, ram-pumps in the Philippines, water mills in Nepal, micro-hydro in Peru, and solar PV in Ghana, Tanzania, India, Bangladesh and Laos PDR. From the UK, finalists spoke about energy efficiency for homes and businesses, the use of wood-fuel for heating, and renewable electricity from wind and solar PV.

The technical seminar will be repeated during the 2008 Awards week.

Wood-fuel for heating

On 29 January 2007 the Ashden Awards held a seminar looking at wood as a heating fuel, hosted by Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council in association with the Yorkshire and Humber Assembly. This seminar followed one held in London in November 2006 in association with the Micropower Council and chaired by Baroness Maddock.

At each seminar four previous Ashden Awards winners working in this area gave presentations and answered questions from delegates. In addition, at the Barnsley seminar delegates had the opportunity to visit a variety of biomass facilities in the area including a wood-fuel processing and storage depot, a block of flats that had been converted from coal to biomass heating and a new office development using biomass heating.

  • Dick Bradford explained how Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council (MBC) reduced its CO2 emissions (relative to 1990 levels) by 20% in 2001, and 40% in 2005. This was achieved by converting old coal-fuelled boilers to wood-fuel, and by using wood-fuelled heating in new construction projects. Wood from tree surgery around the borough is being collected and processed into woodchip for council use.
  • Richard Harvey discussed the options for those wanting to make use of wood-fuelled heating, drawing on his experience with the Rural Energy Trust. Case studies were used to illustrate the range of wood-fuel heating equipment, covering applications from domestic buildings to farm-scale glasshouses.
  • Gillian Alker explained how TV Bioenergy gathers wood from a variety of sources and processes it into a high-quality fuel. She covered issues of quality control, transport and storage, advising potential wood-fuel users on how they could best avoid any problems.
  • Andrew Tolfts of BioRegional Development Group examined the different sources of wood-fuel, including sawmill co-products, tree-surgery arisings, forest management, recycled wood and energy crops. The pros and cons of each source of wood-fuel were explained, including available volumes in rural and urban areas, and suitability for small- and large-scale schemes.

DFID policy seminar

During the 2006 Awards week the Ashden Awards also held an international policy seminar in partnership with the Department for International Development (DFID), for an invited audience of DFID staff and development specialists. Gareth Thomas MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for International Development, addressed the seminar, stressing the importance of sustainable energy in development, and the value of communicating the achievements of Ashden Award winner.

Three of the 2006 winners spoke about the vital services and employment generated by their work.

  • Dipal Barua explained how Grameen Shakti in Bangladesh has enabled over 65,000 households in Bangladesh to purchase photovoltaic solar-electric systems which provide them with high quality lighting, communications, and increased employment opportunities.
  • Amitabha Sadangi di7scussed the commercial supply chain established by International Development Enterprises, India, through which over 510,000 farmers had purchased cheap treadle pumps for irrigation. These pumps greatly increase water supply, food production and farm incomes, as well as providing employment for manufacturers, distributors and installers.
  • Finally Ashililya Nyanda presented the success of the Mwanza Rural Housing Programme in Tanzania, which has developed simple brick-firing kilns using crop waste rather than wood as fuel. Around 70 kiln businesses have provided bricks to build over 100,000 durable homes.

How to apply for an Ashden Award

To apply for an Award, visit the Ashden Awards website and follow the instructions there.

Winners in 2007

Category Country/region Organisation Project
Outstanding achievement India SELCO Making solar energy affordable yet commercially viable
Enterprise China Daxu Ltd New stove designed to burn crop waste transforms the lives of rural users
Enterprise Nepal Centre for Rural Technology, Nepal Upgraded water mills benefit millers and villagers in the Himalayas
Food Security India BIOTECH Innovative scheme turns food waste into gas for cooking and electricity
Food Security India SKG Sangha Innovation in use of biogas slurry allows rural women to make a profit
African Award Tanzania Zara Solar Ltd Solar energy made affordable to the rural poor
African Award Ghana Deng Ltd Solar entrepreneurs bring electricity to rural communities
Light and Power Lao PDR Sunlabob Ltd Solar power electrifies rural villages at a price people can afford
Light and Power Peru Practical Action The power of water electrifies remote Andean villages
Education and Welfare Bangladesh Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha Solar powered boats bring education and sustainable energy supplies to some of Bangladesh's poorest communities
Education and Welfare Philippines AID Foundation New improved ram pump technology brings running water to hillside villages
Renewable Energy UK Wood Energy Ltd Expanding the supply of high quality wood-fuel boilers throughout the UK
Renewable Energy UK Nottinghamshire County Council Using wood for heating in schools
Energy Efficiency UK Cumbria Energy Efficiency Advice Centre Improving the efficiency of housing in Cumbria
Energy Efficiency UK ENWORKS North West businesses make carbon saving pay
Energy Business UK Ecotricity Local renewable electricity from large wind turbines
Energy Business UK Solarcentury Innovative design brings solar power to more rooftops
Schools UK Woodheys Primary School Whole-school commitment to practical energy saving
Schools UK Seaton Primary School Inspiring pupils and supplying sustainable energy with wind and solar systems

Winners in 2006

Category Country/region Organisation Project
Food India VK-Nardep Adding value to the residue from biogas plants
Food India Appropriate Rural Technology Institute (ARTI) Compact digester for producing biogas from food waste
Food Cambodia Groupe Energies Renouvelables, Environnement et Solidarités (GERES) Commercialisation of efficient charcoal stoves in Cambodia
Enterprise India International Development Enterprises, India (IDEI) Treadle pumps for improved agricultural productivity
Light Bangladesh Rahimafrooz Batteries Ltd Local production of components for solar home systems
Light Bangladesh Grameen Shakti Promotion and microfinance of solar home systems for rural households in Bangladesh
Light Sri Lanka SEEDS Micro-finance provides solar lighting to homes in rural Sri Lanka
Health and Welfare China Shaanxi Mothers Fuel, compost and sanitation from biogas in rural China
Health and Welfare Mexico Grupo Interdisciplinario de Tecnología Rural Apropiada (GIRA) Clean and efficient cookstoves bringing health benefits in rural Mexico
Special Africa Award Tanzania Mwanza Rural Housing Programme (MRHP) Using agricultural residues to fire high-quality bricks for low-cost housing
Special Africa Award Southern Africa Aprovecho Research Centre Commercialisation of Rocket Stoves for institutional cooking in Southern Africa
Health and Welfare UK Good Energy Home Generation: rewarding local renewable electricity generators
Renewable Electricity UK Kirklees Metropolitan Borough Council (MBC) Solar villages in Huddersfield
Renewable Heat UK Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council (MBC) District heating from local tree waste
Renewable Heat UK BioRegional Development Group 'TreeStations': establishing a local supply of wood-chip from waste
Energy Efficiency UK Gloucestershire Warm and Well Widespread improvements in energy efficiency and comfort
Energy Efficiency UK Energy Audit Company (EAC) Cavity wall insulation for all
Schools UK Eastchurch Primary School Good energy housekeeping
Schools UK Cassop Primary School Sustainable energy in schools

Winners in 2005

Category Country/region Organisation Project
Health and Welfare Nepal Biogas Sector Partnership Domestic biogas for cooking and sanitation
Health and Welfare Nigeria KXN Nigeria Ltd PV-powered vaccine refrigeration for remote villages in north-east Nigeria
Health and Welfare Honduras Trees, Water and People / AHDESA Fuel-efficient stoves for rural and urban households
Food India Nishant Bioenergy Consultancy Limited School cookstoves running on crop waste in North India
Enterprise Bangladesh Prokaushali Sangsad Limited (PSL) Solar co-operative for Bangladeshi women
Enterprise Rwanda Kigali Institute of Science, Technology and Management (KIST) Biogas plants providing sanitation and cooking fuel in Rwanda
Enterprise India SELCO India Making a business from solar home systems
Light India Noble Energy Solar Technologies (NEST) Ltd Affordable solar lanterns to replace kerosene lamps
Light Philippines Save the Ifugao Terraces Movement (SITMO) Micro-hydro power for villages in the historic rice terraces of the Philippines
Energy Champions UK ALIEnergy Bringing sustainable energy to remote communities on the west coast of Scotland
Energy Champions UK Centre for Sustainable Energy Advancing sustainable energy policy and practice for over 25 years
Energy Efficiency UK Community Energy Plus 'Home Health': bringing energy efficiency to communities in deprived areas of Cornwall
Energy Efficiency UK Second Nature Developing a high-quality insulation for buildings, made of sheep's wool
Renewable Electricity UK Renewable Devices Swift Turbines Building-mounted wind turbines
Renewable Electricity UK South Somerset Hydropower Group Electricity generation from historic water mills
Renewable Heat UK Thames Valley Bioenergy Establishing a woodfuel economy in the Thames valley

Winners in 2004

Winners in 2003

Category Country/region Organisation Project
Health and Welfare Peru Asociacion Madrilena de Ingenieria Sin Fronteras Hispanic American health link in the Upper Amazon
Health and Welfare Pakistan Barefoot College Solar energy to meet basic needs in the Himalayas
Food Eritrea Energy Research and Training Centre (ERTC) Fuel efficient stoves for baking injera bread
Food Nicaragua Prolena Nicaragua The Pro-Tortilla programme: modernisation of household tortilla businesses in Nicaragua with the 'Ecostove'
Enterprise India Madhya Pradesh Gramin Vikas Mandal Solar lamps for street hawkers
Enterprise Bangladesh West Bengal Renewable Energy Development Agency (WBREDA) Sagar Island - Solar Island
Energy Efficiency UK BioRegional Development Group Zed into the Mainstream
Renewable Electricity UK Cwmni Gwynt Teg cooperative Ail Wynt project, Moel Moelogan Wind Farm
Renewable Electricity UK Sustainable Energy Action Ltd Solar for London

Winners in 2002

Category Country/region Organisation Project
Health and Welfare Tanzania Adventures in Health, Education and Agricultural Development (AHEAD) A water testing and solar pasteurisation project for rural communities in Tanzania
Health and Welfare Zambia African College for Community Based Natural Resource Management Solar powered electric fencing for securing livelihoods and conserving wildlife resources
Food India Appropriate Rural Technology Institute (ARTI) Converting sugar cane trash into domestic fuel
Food Kenya Solar Cookers International Expansion of solar cooking programme at Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya

Winners in 2001

Category Country/region Organisation Project
Food Nigeria Centre for Household Energy and the Environment (CEHEEN) Improved cooking stoves for poor families in rural and semi-rural areas of Nigeria
Food Rwanda Kigali Institute of Science, Technology and Management (KIST) Popularisation of the 'KIST' improved bread oven, Rwanda
Health and Welfare Honduras Enersol Associates, Inc. Clean water for health: using solar electricity to deliver clean water in rural Honduras
Education Kenya Renewable Energy Technology Assistance Programme (RETAP) Integrating energy conservation and fuelwood production in schools to help conserve the forests of Mount Kenya

See also

External links