Zayed Future Energy Prize finalists to compete for US$4 million

Finalists for the prizes include high schools, non-governmental organisations, large corporations and small and medium enterprises.

The jury, from left, Han Seung-soo, former PM of Korea, Olafur Grimsson, president of Iceland and jury chairman, Ahmed Ali Al Sayegh, the chairman of Masdar, and . Mona Al Marzooqi / The National
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ABU DHABI // The winners of the US$4 million Zayed Future Energy Prize for 2014 have been chosen – but they will stay a closely guarded secret for another two months.

The finalists, announced on Sunday from 552 submissions from 88 countries, include three global corporations, small and medium enterprises from India, the United States and Belgium, three non-governmental organisations and 10 high schools.

The winners will be announced on January 20 to coincide with Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week. There will also be lifetime achievement awards for outstanding individuals.

The prize is “an instrument of change in the world”, said Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, president of Iceland and chairman of the prize jury. By rewarding innovation in clean energy and energy efficiency, it helps humanity to avert the most dangerous consequences of climate change, he said.

Mr Grimsson reminded his audience on Sunday of the devastation wrought by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. He also touched upon “extreme weather patterns in China, they were not covered very much by the media in Europe and the United States but it was one of the worst weather experiences that China has had … for many decades”.

“The major cause of that extreme weather was the melting of the Arctic sea ice in my country,” said Mr Grimsson. “So we now all face a future where what happens to the Arctic sea ice, to the glaciers in my country, and in Greenland and in Antarctica, will have major consequences for the people in China, in the Philippines, in the US and all of the world.

“This prize is not just about giving the honour to those who will receive it on January 20, it is also about galvanising this global community in countries on every continent, and highlighting how they are helping others to achieve a more secure future.”

Launched and managed by Abu Dhabi clean energy company, Masdar, the award honours the founding father of the UAE, the late Sheikh Zayed.

Now in its sixth year, the award looks to recognise organisations, scientists and advocates working in the fields of energy efficiency and other technologies that reduce carbon-dioxide emissions, such as solar and wind power, energy-efficient building design, smart grids and biofuels.

Among the 2014 finalists competing in the large corporation segment are Switzerland’s robotics company ABB, the American technology company GE and the retailer Walmart. The winner in this category does not receive a monetary award.

Two Indian companies – Abellon CleanEnergy, a bio energy company, and Selco, a solar for-profit social enterprise – are competing in the small and medium enterprise category, with $1.5 million at stake. Clean Power Finance in San Francisco and EcoNation in Belgium are the two other finalists in this category.

With a prize for the winner of another $1.5 million, the non-government organisation category also has three finalists – the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems in Germany, Practical Action from the United Kingdom and the World Resources Institute from the US.

For the second year in a row, the award is also praising schools for outstanding environmental work. Schools compete in five geographical regions with $100,000 given to the winner in each region.

In the Americas, there are three finalists – the Bronx Design & Construction Academy and Comprehensive Development in the US and Colegio Franklin Delano Roosevelt in Peru.

Gh Rosca Codreanu National College in Romania and Queen Elizabeth II High School in the UK are the two finalists from Europe.

In Africa, a school in Somalia – Abaarso School of Science and Technology - and the Nkhata Bay School Authority in Malawi are the finalists.

The Kalkeri Sangeet Vidyalaya in India is the only finalist from the Asia region, and the Tonga High School in Tonga and Urrbrae Agricultural High School in Australia are from the Oceania region.

Entries go through several rounds of selection with the final word belonging to the jury. The 2014 judging panel also has Ahmed Al Sayegh, chairman of Masdar, Adnan Amin, director general of the International Renewable Energy Agency, politicians from the Maldives, South Africa and South Korea, the entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson and the Indian industrialist Ratan Tata.