x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Companies prefer prestige of winning Zayed Energy Prize over the cash award

While they may not receive any monetary prizes, the corporations competing for the Zayed Energy Prize say winning would be a great achievement.

Winning the Zayed Future Energy Prize is likely to have a big financial impact for most – but large corporations do not receive a monetary award and say the prestige of winning is reward enough.

The nominees said collecting the prize on January 20 in Abu Dhabi would be a significant achievement.

Frank Duggan, the head of global markets and a member of the group executive committee of ABB, a Swiss power and automation company, said: “Success would help ABB serve as a role model and promote the prize as an incentive to spur further innovation in sustainable energy technologies around the world.”

ABB is competing with two United States companies, General Electric and Walmart, for the top spot.

The finalists were selected because of their contributions to renewable energy development.

Of ABB’s 2012 revenue of US$39.3 billion (Dh146.6bn), divisions involved in renewable energy and energy efficiency contributed about $22bn.

But although renewable technologies are being developed, important barriers remain.

“Population growth, increased manufacturing activity, urbanisation and expanding prosperity will drive energy consumption over the next decade. GCC countries alone require an extra 80,000 megawatts of power per day by 2015,” Mr Duggan said.

“Today, the main barrier to energy solutions is not technology but awareness, knowledge, political will and financing.”

Nabil Habayeb, General Electric’s chief executive for the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey, said that a win for his company would boost its ‘ecomagination’ initiative.

It was launched eight years ago and one of its goals is improving environmental performance.

With revenues of $130bn since ecomagination’s inception, it contributed 17 per cent of General Electric’s total revenue in 2012.

“Through our research, we develop solutions and services that can be effectively integrated into existing conditions and eventually shape a greener future,” said Mr Habayeb, explaining that General Electric has more than a thousand clean-technology patents.

This year, for the first time, a retail company has been shortlisted as a finalist for the prize.

Walmart has been recognised for its sustainability programme, introduced in 2005.

“Energy prices are increasing in nearly all of the 25 markets where Walmart operates,” said Kim Saylors-Laster, the company’s vice president of energy.

“As we expand our global operations to meet rapidly increasing demand for retail services, such as healthier, safer foods that require a cold supply chain, we strive to be an efficient and sustainable retailer.”

The Zayed Future Energy Prize awards entries in five different categories with a prize fund worth $4 million.

The finalists have been selected from 552 submissions from 88 countries. They were evaluated in several rounds and selected by a high-profile jury that includes the renowned British entrepreneur, Sir Richard Branson.

“This was a remarkably tough competition to judge. All of the finalists in each category are doing some amazing work to create an energy future this planet can be proud of,” he said.

“Innovation needs impetus – a purpose to get you thinking about ways to have a positive impact on the world.

“One of the best ways to achieve this impetus is prizes. They are often a catalyst for innovation simply by giving people a tangible reason to make something new.”

vtodorova@thenational.ae