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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 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 2009, the Ashden Awards will be giving awards for the UK in the following categories:

  • Energy business
  • Local Authority
  • Charity

There are three first prizes of £30,000 each, and three second prizes of £15,000 each.

Energy Business Award

This award is for businesses which have made local renewable energy and energy efficiency products and services more accessible. We are particularly interested in enterprises which have opened up new opportunities. Previous winners like Kensa (2008), Dulas (2008), Ecotricity (2007), Solarcentury (2007), Good Energy (2006) and Second Nature (2005) have shown the type of entrepreneurial achievement which this Award recognises.

Local Authority Award

This award is for Local Authorities which have undertaken effective initiatives and programmes to improve energy efficiency and/or increase the supply of local renewable energy (heat and electricity), and also promoted the wider use of sustainable energy through local planning and policies. Previous winners like Leeds City Council (2008), Arun District Council (2008), Nottinghamshire CC (2007), Barnsley MBC (2006) and Kirklees MBC (2006) show the type of programme which this Award recognises.

Charity Award

This award is for not-for-profit groups such as Energy Agencies and charities, which have carried out projects or programmes to reduce energy demand and/or increase the supply of renewable energy (heat and electricity), at a local level. Previous winners like Global Action Plan (2008), The Energy Agency (2008), ENWORKS (2007), Severn Wye Energy Agency(2006) and Community Energy Plus (2005) are relevant to this category.

The UK Schools Award

This Award is open to any UK school, providing education for pupils aged between 5 and 16, which has developed both an ethos and practice of sustainability, in which the responsible use of energy is a key component. The Award carries a first prize of £15,000 and two second prizes of £7,500.

The 2008 winners were Ringmer Community College, East Sussex and Sandhills Primary School, Oxford.

The International Awards

In 2009 there will be up to seven International awards of £20,000 each, and one Ashden Energy Champion Award of £40,000 for the work which most impresses the judging panel. All awards bring a substantial package of benefits in addition to the prize money, including a short documentary film of the award-winning work, publicity, and longer-term development support.

Awards are given for the service to communities provided by the use of sustainable energy, rather than for the technology used. In 2009, awards will highlight the particular achievements of each winner, rather than be offered in specific categories. We expect award-winning work to provide services in one or more of the following areas:

  • Food security
  • Health, education and welfare
  • Light and power for homes and businesses
  • Enterprise

Food security Renewable energy can be used in any part of the food supply chain, from growing, processing, storage and cooking, through to marketing and distribution. Relevant past winners include the Escorts Foundation (Pakistan, 2004) and Trees, Water and People (Honduras, 2005) for the development and dissemination of improved fuelwood stoves; Biotech (India, 2007) for the development of a pre-fabricated biogas digester for domestic and municipal use; IDEI (India, 2006) for dissemination of affordable pumps to provide water to irrigate food crops.

Health, education and welfare Renewable energy can be used directly in healthcare facilities and schools (including providing light, refrigeration, sterilisation and communications), and provide light for study at home. It can also bring improvements to health in homes or schools (including reducing smoke from stoves, and improving sanitation). Relevant past winners include RETAP (Kenya, 2001), 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; Engineers without Borders (Peru, 2003) for solar-powered communications systems for remote jungle health centres; KXN (Nigeria, 2005) for providing solar-powered vaccine refrigerators in Nigeria; GIRA (Mexico, 2006) for providing low-emission woodstoves and analysing their health benefits; and AID Foundation (Philippines, 2007) for hydraulic ram pumps delivering fresh water to remote villages.

Light and power for homes and businesses Renewable electricity can power clean, efficient portable lamps or fixed lighting for homes or community buildings both in areas which are not connected to grid power, and also where mains electricity is unreliable or unaffordable. Small scale renewable electricity can also enable businesses and social services to develop. Relevant past winners include Practical Action (Peru, 2007) for micro-hydro schemes which have brought electricity to homes and businesses in remote villages and Zara Solar (Tanzania, 2007) for delivering reliable solar PV systems for lighting and business in areas without access to the electricity grid.

Enterprise Businesses can play an important role in delivering renewable energy and encouraging its rapid spread. Some past winners are businesses, including SELCO-India (India, 2005) which built up a thriving business network supplying high-quality solar lighting systems, and Daxu (China, 2007) which commercialised an efficient household stove that can burn crop waste for water heating and cooking. The work of other winners has helped small businesses to develop, including MRHP (Tanzania, 2006) which trained and supported small brick-making businesses, and IDEI (India, 2006) which developed a supply-chain of small businesses to manufacture, sell and install water pumps.

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 Anna Ford, John Humphrys and Jonathan Dimbleby and environmental journalist Mark Lynas.

Guest speakers over the last three years include Sir David King, Wangari Maathai, 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 2007 ceremony Al Gore commented:

"No one can attend an event like the Ashden Awards and fail to be inspired. We must find a path from an unsustainable present to a sustainable future.

What impresses me most about these projects is they truly are becoming the change that is needed in the world.

These Awards tell us how to illuminate this path to a sustainable future together. I hope that we can make it quickly."

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: Imperial College seminar

During the 2008 Awards week the Ashden Awards their annual Imperial College seminar, where the finalists presented their work to an audience of 190 people, drawn from business, government, NGOs and education. The seminar was opened by Professor Sir Peter Knight, Principal of the Faculty of Natural Sciences at Imperial College.

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 efficient stoves burning crop waste in India, sawdust in Tanzania and ethanol produced from waste in Ethiopia; micro-hydro in Brazil; solar drying in Uganda and solar PV in India, Bangladesh and China. From the UK, finalists spoke about energy efficiency for homes and businesses, ground source heat pumps, renewable energy installation and work in schools to promote energy efficiency and renewable generation.

The seminar will be repeated during the 2009 Awards week.

Awards Week: International policy seminar

The International Policy Seminar was again held in partnership with DFID in 2008. The title ‘Scaling up low-carbon energy’ reflected the growing interest in the impacts of climate change and development. Both DFID staff and senior representatives from other development organisations attended the seminar.

Three finalists were selected as speakers, to give a range of technology and geography along with different perspectives on sustainable energy and climate change. Dipal Barua (Grameen Shakti, Bangladesh) described how Technology Centres had been set up in Bangladesh to train women as entrepreneurs to install solar home lighting systems, and had now expanded into efficient stoves and biogas plants. João Alderi do Prado (CRERAL, Brazil) explained how his co-operative had been construction mini-hydro systems to supply electricity in rural areas, creating new business opportunities and raising the standard of living. Angello Ndyaguma (Fruits of the Nile, Uganda) described the use of solar fruit dryers in Uganda to convert surplus fruit into a marketable product, lifting families out of poverty.

Each presentation started with a 5-minute documentary film, followed by a ten-minute presentation by the finalist.

How to apply for an Ashden Award

To apply for an Award, visit the relevant page on the Ashden Awards website and follow the instructions there:

Ashden Awards resources

To help achieve its goal of raising awareness of local sustainable energy, the Ashden Awards has developed resources that are freely available from the website:

Ashden Awards Blog

To allow informal reporting of news and discussion between past winners and others, the Ashden Awards also publishes a blog[1].

Winners in 2008

Category/technology Country/region Organisation Award-winning work
Outstanding achievement Bangladesh Grameen Shakti Rapidly growing solar installer provides clean cooking as well
Efficient stoves India TIDE Wood-saving stoves for small businesses in South India
Solar PV China Renewable Energy Development Project (REDP) Bringing affordable, high-quality solar lighting to rural China
Efficient stoves Tanzania Kisangani Smith Group Blacksmiths develop wood-saving stoves
Efficient stoves Ethiopia Gaia Association Clean, safe ethanol stoves for refugee homes
Solar thermal Uganda Fruits of the Nile Solar drying business links rural farmers with export markets
Mini hydro Brazil CRERAL Cooperative uses mini hydro to increase electricity supply on local grid
Solar PV India Aryavart Gramin bank Bank helps customers to buy solar home systems
Charity UK Global Action Plan Bringing energy efficiency to the workplace and beyond
Charity UK The Energy Agency, Ayrshire Using a community wind fund to improve energy efficiency of homes
Energy business UK Kensa Design and manufacture of heat pumps for easy installation
Energy business UK Dulas Diverse renewable energy services from employee-owned business
Local Authority UK Leeds City Council Continually improving efficiency in a large housing stock
Local Authority UK Arun District Council District council brings energy efficiency throughout its operations
Schools UK Ringmer Community College Secondary pupil-led commitment to managing energy
Schools UK Sandhills Primary School Sustainable energy throughout culture and curriculum of a primary school

Winners in 2007

Category Country/region Organisation Award-winning work
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 Award-winning work
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
Renewable Electricity 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 Award-winning work
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 & 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

Category Country/region Organisation Award-winning work
Enterprise Pakistan Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP) Micro-hydro power for remote communities in the Hindu Kush, North West Frontier Province, Pakistan
Enterprise India Aurore Solar power for communities, farmers and market traders across India
Enterprise India IT Power (ITPI) Upgrading of traditional watermills in the Himalayas to enable the growth of local sustainable milling enterprises
Food Pakistan Escorts Foundation Fuel-efficient stoves for rural women in Pakistan
Food Guatemala HELPS International Fuel-efficient, safe wood-burning stoves for rural communities in Guatemala
Food India Prakratik Society Biogas cooking stoves for villages on the fringes of the tiger reserve in Ranthambhore Park
Light Kenya Intermediate Technology Development Group Kenya (ITDG-EA) 'Pico-hydro' power - bringing electricity to rural communities on the slopes of Mount Kenya
Renewable Electricity UK Miles and Gail Fursdon Micro-hydro power for a Dartmoor farm
Renewable Heat UK Rural Energy Trust (RET) Woodfuel heating systems for schools and public buildings

Winners in 2003

Category Country/region Organisation Award-winning work
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 Award-winning work
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 Award-winning work
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


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