Abu Dhabi: A former prime minister, five schools, an Asian non-profit organisation, an off-grid energy provider and a new energy automobile manufacturer were among nine winners of the prestigious Zayed Future Energy Prize this year.
The awardees, selected from 29 finalists, were honoured during the opening ceremony of the World Future Energy Summit in the capital today.
His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, presented the nine winners with the Zayed Future Energy Prize. In attendance were His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and seven heads of state.
Lifetime Achievement Award
Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland
Credited with driving the global multi-lateral dialogue on climate change to the forefront. In addition to serving as the prime minister of Norway for three terms, Dr Brundtland wrote the Brundtland Report in the 1980s, which focuses on sustainable international development. She was also director- general of the World Health Organisation. She currently serves as the United Nations Special Envoy for Climate Change under Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
“I will be working on issues that are identical to the vision and legacy of Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, and will continue to put a lot of emphasis on renewable energies.”
BYD, which stands for Build Your Dreams, is a China-based public company that is also the world’s largest rechargeable battery supplier. The company is also a pioneer in the development of new energy vehicles, with its electric buses and taxis being used in 160 cities around the world.
What the prize means to them: “This recognition strengthens our commitment to continue developing clean, sustainable technologies that drive communities forward. I was also given the lifetime award two years ago, and used the $500,000 (Dh1.83 billion) to assist our underprivileged employees and their families,”
Wang Chuanfu, founder and chairman, BYD.
Small and Medium Enterprises
A solar energy provider in Tanzania, with a scaleable business model that allows customer to pay using their cellphones. It has already expanded operations to neighbouring Rwanda.
What the prize means to them: “While we serve 10,000 households at present with the help of 350 door-to-door staff, we are now looking at increasing this number to thousands of staff members in order to cover the entire country,”
Xavier Helgesen, chief executive officer and co-founder, Off.Grid:Electric.
Delivers clean energy technologies to rural and remote communities in the Far Eastern nation and, as of last year, had distributed more than 60,000 units, including solar-powered lights, solar home systems, water filters and clean stoves and reached over 300,000 people.
What the prize means to them: “In Indonesia, access to safe drinking water is a major concern. Moreover, 100 million people still reply on open fires for cooking, which promotes pollution and the incidence of smoke-related diseases. We therefore aim to distribute our sustainable solutions to one million Indonesians, and this would not be possible without the prize,”
Eva Wojkowska, co-founder and chief operational officer, Kopernik.
Global High Schools
Cashmere High School in New Zealand, a secondary school of 1,700 students based in Christchurch.
The prize will be used for: “[Enables us to] install solar panels, wind turbines and piezoelectric tiles. An earthquake in 2011 damaged much of Christchurch’s infrastructure, and now is the time to incorporate sustainable technologies,” said Nola Smart, a Grade 12 pupil.
On Shaikh Zayed’s legacy: “He saw his people living in harsh environments, but with his vision, he improved their standards of living while never losing sight of the bigger picture of sustainable development,” Lily Williams, a Grade 10 pupil, said.
Korea Science Academy in South Korea
Established in 1991, it caters to pupils gifted in the sciences.
The prize will be used for: “Our school focuses on promoting research. We will therefore use the grant to develop a rooftop garden and study its effect on enhancing the efficiency of cooling systems. We could also scale up our wind turbines and install solar panels,” said Minu Kim, a Grade 11 pupil.
On Shaikh Zayed’s legacy: “Like Shaikh Zayed advocated sustainable development, we will continue to encourage our local communities to adopt clean technologies when they visit our regular science fairs,” said Jongmin Jin, a Grade 11 pupil.
SOS HG Shaikh Secondary School in Somaliland, a not-for-profit institution that caters to 300 pupils and focuses on science and maths learning.
The prize will be used for: “[Installing a hybrid energy system using photovoltaic solar and wind turbines. In addition, cooking gas is very expensive for the 293 families in our town, so we will set up a biogas generator,” said Khalid Mohammad, science teacher at the school.
On Shaikh Zayed’s legacy: “Reading about Shaikh Zayed, I realised that he made the impossible possible. He showed us that is not access to resources access that matters for development; instead development comes from generating good ideas,” said Mohammad Omar, senior spokesperson for the school.
SFZ Sudwurttemberg in Germany, an institute offering young enthusiasts an extracurricular platform to conduct research and develop ideas independently.
The prize will be used for: “To develop a water wheel as an off-grid energy source. In addition, we will work on optimising energy efficiency and enhancing energy storage for smart grid systems,” said Jonas Woerner, 15, a young researcher.
On Shaikh Zayed’s legacy: “Every country must do its part to move towards smart grid technologies that are sustainable in the long run, just as this prize encourages,” said 17-year-old Julian Hassis.
Institucio Educativa Gabriel Plazas in Colombia, a public entity founded in 1984 in the town of Villavieja. Many of the pupils come from households with limited resources, or have themselves fled violence elsewhere in the country.
The prize will be used for: “[Install] solar panels for our cafeteria, which currently has limited access to energy for cooling and storage. I am very passionate about this project, which will help us harvest the abundant solar energy to improve our lives,” said Anyily Pascuas, a Grade 10 pupil at the school.
On Shaikh Zayed’s legacy: “Sustainability is so very important towards ensuring that we all have a chance at doing better, just as the Zayed Energy Prize inspires us to do,” said Christian Tovar, a Grade 11 pupil at the school.