Zayed Future Energy Prize finalists named

The finalists for the Zayed Future Energy Prize have been selected.

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Thirty pioneers for the Zayed Future Energy Prize have been announced following a two-day evaluation by experts from the field of energy, sustainability and education.

They will face the jury again on October 23, and the winners that day will be recognised in January at one of the events to mark Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week.

The prize is separated into several categories. Since the prize was first awarded in 2008, the pot has totalled US$22 million.

The shortlist for the small- and medium-sized enterprise category include silicon wafer manufacturer 1366 Technologies and energy storage firms Sonnen and 24M.

In the non-profit organisation category, the finalists include We Care Solar, Practical Action and Solar Sister, which aim to alleviate energy poverty and empower women in developing countries.

Three companies made it to the finalist list of the large corporation category, and six individuals for the lifetime achievement category. They will be announced in January.

There are 15 finalists in the global high schools category.

That list features Mfantsipim School from Ghana, St Mary’s Sosio Girls Secondary School and Starehe Girls Centre and School, both from Kenya, Green School Bali (Yayasan Kul-Kul) of Indonesia, British International School Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Hankuk Academy of Foreign Studies, South Korea, Escuela Secundaria Tecnica 67 Francisco Díaz de León of Mexico, Unidad Educativa Sagrado Corazón 4 of Bolivia, Public School Dimas Mozart e Silva of Brazil, Belvedere College of Dublin in the Irish Republic, Instituto Politécnico Escuelas San José and Institut Educació Secundària Cotes Baixes of Spain, Sangam Sadhu Kuppuswamy Memorial College of Fiji, Aana College 2 of Samoa, and Huonville High School of Tasmania, Australia.

“The prize continues to further the legacy of our nation’s Founding Father, Sheikh Zayed, by empowering individuals and organisations across the world that strive for a sustainable future for all. The fact that this was a record-breaking year for the prize, in terms of entries, underlines the growing global momentum behind achieving a sustainable energy future,” said Dr Nawal Al-Hosany, director of the Zayed Future Energy Prize.

Following the two-day selection process by the award’s review committee, chairman Dr Behjat Al Yousuf, the provost of Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, said: “The quality of entries continues to increase, which makes it more challenging for us to choose the best ones.”

He welcomed the challenge “as it demonstrates the strength of the Zayed Future Energy Prize and the relevance of its focus on renewable energy and sustainability.”

He described this year’s finalists as “the most innovative” yet seen.

“Come January, we look forward to seeing the winners deliver real and lasting change to the world through their achievements,” he said.

Jonathon Porritt, founder director of the Forum for the Future, who has been on the selection committee since the start, recalled the reactions when the award was first announced.

“I do remember the early days with great fondness – it was a little speculative. This is Abu Dhabi after all, the UAE announcing what they hoped would be the world’s most influential renewable energy prize in a country that is very significantly dependent on oil and gas.

“Many thought, ‘Well that is gonna be interesting’, and wondered if they were really able to pull that off,” he said. “Because in order to demonstrate to the rest of the world that they are serious and weren’t just playing around as it were, to put a little green paint on an otherwise fossil fuel economy, they’d have to invest in it properly, they’d have to take it very seriously, and have the commitment to grow it over the years and that is exactly what happened.”

“Year after year the whole thing has gained stature,” Mr Porritt said.

Dr Abdulla Alzarouni, chair of the Global High Schools Committee and assistant to the president, Rochester Institute of Technology Dubai, agreed that selecting finalists this year was difficult.

“What is truly inspiring is that each year we are seeing tremendous growth in the number and standard of proposals in this (global high schools category), which makes choosing the finalists extremely difficult.”

This category was established in 2012 and “provided a platform to encourage young people to become leaders for the future of sustainable development,” he added.

There were 1,678 entries to the award this year, and in total there were 10,000 submissions and nominations made over the nine editions of the award since it kicked off in 2008.

*Additional reporting by Naser Al Wasmi