The Ashden Awards are given to visionaries in the developing world who are finding solutions to climate change and bringing real social and economic benefits to their local communities at a grass-roots level. In the past projects have shown how simple, innovative design, at a relatively small price can bring huge changes to large numbers of people in terms of health, education, and social welfare. This year the 7 finalists are no less inspiring.
In Western China, the Renewable Energy Development Project (REDP), has brought affordable, high-quality solar lighting to people who live in tents in rural areas. Since 2001, REDP has sold over 402,000 photovoltaic (PV) solar-home systems to yak and other herding communities in remote areas. Previously they relied on kerosene, butter lamps and candles for light. Now almost 1.44 million people who previously had little access to electricity have an improved quality of life through better light, communications and entertainment.
In Uttar Pradesh, India, the Aryavart Gramin bank helps customers to buy solar home systems in areas where there is unreliable grid power. The bank set up a bulk supply and installation agreement for PV solar-home-systems, and provides loans for its customers with a good credit record to purchase the systems. To date 10,100 loans have been approved and 8,000 solar home-systems installed. Local entrepreneurs are paid by the bank to service and maintain systems.
In South India, many of the small industries rely on wood as their main source of energy. Technology Informatics Design Endeavour (TIDE) has developed and adapted energy-efficient woodstoves and kilns for specific industries, including silk reeling, textile dyeing, ayurvedic medicine production and food preparation. Over 10,500 stoves have been sold by TIDE and the entrepreneurs it has trained. The stoves save about 43,000 ton/year biomass, provide a cleaner, cooler environment for users, and often lead to significant time savings. TIDE is developing a range of stoves for large-scale cooking, and working with larger production centres in order to bring the stoves to more customers.
Other finalists include the Kisangani Smith Group in Tanzania, developing wood-saving stoves for blacksmiths, the Ethiopian Gaia Association making clean, safe ethanol stoves for refugee homes. In Brazil, the Cooperativa Regional de Eletrificação Rural do Alto Uruguai Ltda (CRERAL) supplies electricity via the grid to 6,300 mainly rural customers. To increase electricity supply on the local grid, it has built and now operates two mini-hydro plants. The winners are announced on June 18, 2008. :: Ashden Awards