ABU DHABI // Emerging-market countries and schools across the world have provided a boost to this year’s Zayed Future Energy Prize.
The submissions deadline for next year’s awards closed yesterday, and while the 552 entries from 88 countries were slightly fewer than the 579 last year, interest in the prize was boosted by those from countries such as China and high schools in the UAE and abroad.
High schools accounted for 82 of this year’s submissions, about 50 per cent more than last year.
There were 22 submissions from China, or a rise of about 60 per cent on last year.
Interest from emerging countries as a whole increased by about 10 per cent.
The awards recognise leading individuals and organisations in renewable energy, energy efficiency and environmentally friendly design, and have US$4 million (Dh14.6m) in prize money across a variety of categories.
Dr Sultan Al Jaber, director general of the Zayed Future Energy Prize and chief executive of Abu Dhabi’s sustainable energy company Masdar, underlined the awards’ importance to the renewables industry.
“Over the years we have witnessed a steady growth in submissions from the emerging markets around the world,” Dr Al Jaber said.
“We believe we have come to a critical point, where encouraging, rewarding and awarding innovation in renewable energy through funding and investments is vital for the industry’s growth and success.”
Last year the award was opened to high schools around the world.
Prizes of $100,000 were available to the winning schools in five geographical regions – Europe, Asia, Africa, the Americas and Oceania.
Among the winners was the Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Bangladesh Islamia School in Abu Dhabi, which competed with the Fujimigaoka Educational Institution in Tokyo, Japan, and the Kalkeri Sangeet Vidyalaya school in Karnataka, India.
“The schools category underscores the objective of the prize to encourage and reward the next generation’s efforts in shaping a better future for all,” said Dr Al Jaber.
“It is encouraging to see that our fastest-growing category is one that involves the active participation of high school students.”
The awards’ Global High School Prize falls under the UAE’s commitment to the UN secretary general’s Sustainable Energy for All initiative.
The British entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson is joining this year’s jury, along with the Indian industrialist Ratan N Tata, and several prominent politicians and energy experts.
The jury is chaired by Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, the president of Iceland. After two years on the jury, the American actor Leonardo DiCaprio has dropped out.
Launched in 2008, the Zayed Future Energy Prize has so far rewarded 21 innovators.
Its categories include large corporation, small and medium enterprise, non-government organisation and lifetime achievement.
Among last year’s winners was Prof Jose Goldemberg, whose studies into the use of sugar cane ethanol as fuel helped to propel the use of biofuels in his native Brazil and beyond.
Ceres, a company based in the US that uses investor influence to pressure companies, industries and regulators to reduce their carbon emissions was recognised.
The German technology giant Siemens and the American social enterprise d.light Design were other winners.
The Zayed Future Energy Prize 2014 winners will be announced at a ceremony in January next year, as part of the annual Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week