The Zayed Future Energy Prize winners were announced on Monday during Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week.
The winners included five schools who were chosen from a shortlist of 15.
Lifetime Achievement Award: Shuji Nakamura
LED is one of most sustainable forms of light that exists today and continues to be one of the most important innovations of our century.
Shuji Nakamura, from Japan, was named the father of LED light.
Lighting consumes 22 per cent of all electricity produced but LED is one of biggest revolutions in the last decades, with scientists working on acquiring the blue LED light since the 1950s.
The professor of materials, electrical and computer engineering at the University of California in Santa Barbara invested in the blue and green lights. "LED efficiency is so high," he said. "So if you use it for all kinds of lighting, you can reduce energy consumption dramatically. The award means my invention contributed a lot to sustainability all over the world."
Small and Medium Enterprises category winner: Sunna Design
This French company designs, manufactures and sells smart solar street lighting. The lamps are made using a nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) battery chemistry that is resilient to low and high temperatures and has a 10-year lifetime. The company has installed roughly 10,000 lamps in 40 countries across Africa, parts of the Middle East and India.
It is orginially a tech company meant for delivering electricity in remote areas. "We have a product that can sustain 15 years in deserted and tropical conditions," said Thomas Samuel, its founder and chief executive. "It is changing the lives of thousands of people in the field. Our vision of sustainability is very close to Sheikh Zayed's vision and I feel there is already a good example of our technology lighting places in the UAE and that's the best example of where we converge."
Non profit Organisation category winner: Selco Foundation
Based in India, the Selco Foundation works to improve quality of life and increase incomes for the poor. It encourages disruptive ideas and decentralised energy solutions that can be developed and replicated around the world. The foundation's philosophy is that technology, finance and social aspects must be combined to demonstrate the link between environmental sustainability and poverty alleviation.
It was started in 2010 with a focus on rural and tribal areas on urban poverty issues. The company tries to solve them by using sustainable energy as a catalyst. Some of its examples include a solar-powered blower for blacksmiths and solar-powered sewing machines as workers lose their incomes without electricity. It has a great potential to enable financial inclusion. "The legacy of Sheikh Zayed was to include the poor in every process and once you do, sustainability will automatically fall in," one of its employees said.
Global High Schools category winners:
- Winner in Africa: Aouda Saadia High School
The Aouda Saadia School is an all-girls school comprising pupils from ‘modest families of artisans and farmers’. It plans include adding solar water heaters, photovoltaic panels and LED light bulbs to reduce the school’s energy use and provide hot showers. Floor lamps will be installed to light the school at night, so that pupils are safe and night classes can be held for illiterate local women. The school also plans to develop teaching modules, educational tools and training workshops for pupils, and provide air conditioning for classrooms.
- Winner in Asia: Bahrain Bayan School
Established in 1982, Bahrain Bayan School is a K-12 non-profit bilingual school based in Isa Town. The school intends to use the prize money to develop EcoLab 360, a learning platform to educate pupils and the community on sustainable practices and technologies with emphasis on the five R's; Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Raise awareness, and Renewable energy.
A grant of 100,000 dollars from the prize will be used to develop an innovative, hands-on sustainability education platform – EcoLab 360 – at the primary school cafeteria, to demonstrate and educate students and the wider community about the 'how-to' and benefits of energy conservation and renewable energy.
The project will also focus on water conservation, greywater recycling and food waste recycling to produce fertilizer, biogas and biodiesel and places students at the forefront of innovation, challenged to introduce new solutions into the EcoLab 360 for continuous improvement on sustainability education.
- Winner in Americas: Centro Educativo Mbaracayu
Mbaracayú Educational Centre is a technical boarding school for rural and indigenous girls between the ages of 15 and 18. Located in the Mbaracayú Reserve’s forest in Paraguay, the centre — which opened in 2009 — offers the last three years of high school. Pupils pay a symbolic amount to cover the cost of their education and graduate with a technical degree in environmental sciences. The girls help at the tourism lodge and with the sale of products from the farming centre run by the school.
- Winner in Europe: Vladimir Nazor School
Vladimir Nazor school in Croatia is just 15km from the Adriatic coast. The school seeks to take advantage of the sunny location by installing a solar system to provide both electricity and water heating. The school won the prize on its first application.
The school is about 40 kilometres from Skabrnja, the site of a civilian massacre in November 2001 by Serbian paramilitary and Yugoslav army troops. A mass grave containing the remains of 84 people was found adjacent to the school, which was destroyed and not rebuilt until 1997. The current principal, Marin Pavičić, who was a child at the time, escaped by hiding in his family’s basement.
- Winner in Oceania: Motufoua Secondary School Tuvalu
Motufoua Secondary School is the only government school in Tuvalu, a small Polynesian island nation. Located on the island of Vaitapu, the school has a 46kW solar PV array and a diesel generator but do not have a steady supply of fuel.
The school intends to install a bio-digester and a pig farm that will provide organic fertiliser for their vegetable garden. This should produce enough biogas to meet the school’s needs and save money otherwise spent on synthetic fertiliser and liquid petroleum gas imports from Fiji. The school also plans to install four 10,000-litre rainwater tanks and a 3kW solar PV system to light the pig farm and run a water pump.