x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Zayed Future Energy Prize: more money, more winners

Carbon Disclosure Project, fuel-efficient stove and France's Schneider Electric take honours and their share of $4 million in prizes.

ABU DHABI // This year's Zayed Future Energy prize featured a greater number of winners after the awards were expanded from one to three categories - small and medium enterprises and not-for-profit organisations, lifetime achievement, and large companies.

Three winners and two runners-up were announced from 13 shortlisted finalists in the fourth year of the competition.

The UK-based Carbon Disclosure Project won the US$1.5 million (Dh5.5m) prize in the small and medium enterprises and not-for-profit category, for its work that included encouraging 382 of the world's top 500 companies to disclose their carbon emissions and water usage.

Dr Ashok Gadgil from the University of California, Berkeley, won the lifetime achievement category and US$500,000 for work including his Darfur stove project, a fuel efficient cooking stove which has prompted a 55 per cent drop in Darfur's use of firewood.

He said: "Being selected the winner for the Zayed Future Energy Prize is a great honour and tremendous validation of my lifelong passion and efforts for energy innovation and sustainability.

"Looking at the list of past prize winners and runners up - some of whose work I know well - I am impressed with the energy and ingenuity of this group, and I hope that we can work together, and inspire many others, to advance the aim of the Zayed Future Energy Prize - energy sustainability for the planet."

The winner of the large companies award was Schneider Electric, a French company. Although it received no financial award, the prize recognised its efforts towards making energy safe, reliable and efficient.

A record number of entries were received this year for the awards, founded in 2008 by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. A total of 425 individuals, businesses and organisations submitted entries.

Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, the director general of the Zayed Future Energy Prize, said of the competitors: "These are people that had the foresight to recognise that investing in the future is based on long term vision and the ability to innovate the technologies that the world so urgently needs."

Last year the organisers announced that they would nearly double the total prize money to $4m. The top prize for small and medium enterprise or not-for-profit organisations remains $1.5m, while the award for the first runner-up was boosted to $1m and second runner-up to $500,000. Both were previously $350,000.

The judging panel included Cherie Blair, the wife of the former British prime minister Tony Blair, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, the president of Iceland, and Leonardo DiCaprio, the actor.

Most entries were either concerned with energy efficiency or technologies to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions. The prize also recognises innovations in sectors such as solar and wind power; energy-efficient building design; smart grids that efficiently deliver electricity; biofuels and sustainable waste management.

mswan@thenational.ae