Six contestants from a field of 40 made the final cut yesterday for the US$1.5 million (Dh5.5m) Zayed Future Energy Prize.
A scientist, a policy maker, three private companies and a college that runs on solar power are finalists for next month's competition.
Dedicated to Sheikh Zayed, the founding President of the UAE, the prize awards outstanding work in the field of renewable energy.
Besides the first prize, there are also two $350,000 awards for runners-up.
California-based Terry Tamminen is one of two individual candidates from the US who are up for the prize. He has developed policies to encourage green energy generation for more than two decades.
Amory Lovins, the second individual, is the chairman and chief scientist of the Rocky Mountain Institute in Colorado, who is known for his cutting-edge work on designing energy-efficient buildings.
The Barefoot College in India is the country's only institution that runs on solar power. It also works to give poor people access to renewable energy.
Two of the three private companies that are competing are also from the US. The Arizona-based First Solar is one of the fastest-growing solar panel manufacturers in the world. E+Co is an American investor that supports clean energy companies in the developing world. Denmark's Vestas is the world's largest wind turbine manufacturer.
"We had a hard time selecting these six entries," said Razan al Mubarak, the managing director of Emirates Wildlife Society - World Wide Fund for Nature and chairman of the award's selection committee. "The nature of the work of each candidate was exceptional, we analysed each entry from different angles."
The Zayed Future Energy Prize will be awarded at a ceremony on January 18, alongside the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi.