In the UK and around the world, this year’s Ashden Award winners are creating greener homes, cities and transport networks, as well as improving health, reducing poverty and inequality and transforming energy infrastructure. All ten have been chosen after rigorous judging by our energy experts.
We have said ‘this feels like a pivotal year’ many times at previous Awards Ceremonies, for climate action and the move towards a zero-carbon world. But the Climate Emergency movement, Extinction Rebellion, the school strikes, Greta Thunberg, and David Attenborough documentaries have engaged people, businesses and governments to levels we have never seen before.
There is still time to get your tickets for the Ashden Awards Ceremony on 3 July, where we will celebrate their work with a 500 strong audience of policy makers, investors and those working in the sustainable energy and climate change sectors. The Ceremony will be a flagship event of the inaugural London Climate Action Week, held at the Royal Geographical Society in London.
Ashden CEO Harriet Lamb said: “The outstanding organisations that make up our roster of 2019 winners are truly inspirational, bringing much-needed solutions to the table. Their practical but clever and economically feasible innovations are just what we need to address the climate emergency. People are feeling overwhelmed by the scale of the emergency; but these organisations have all shown the face of the possible; now we need to get behind them, scale up the solutions and make them the new norm.”
This year’s winners:
Impax Ashden Award for Energy Innovation
Highview Power’s ground-breaking CRYOBatteries enable large-scale energy storage to be built more cheaply and with less environmental damage than lithium batteries, which are linked to destructive mineral mining. The UK company’s technology helps keep the grid stable as the share of renewable energy – poised to overtake fossil fuels as the UK’s largest electricity source – increases. CRYOBatteries can also store excess solar and wind energy for later use. They store energy using liquid air and are made more efficient by clever use of the waste cold and heat created during the process. CRYOBatteries are relatively cheap, long-lasting and easy to make and install.
Ashden Award for Clean Air in Towns and Cities, supported by HSBC
The London Borough of Waltham Forest has weathered protests and public anger over its bold scheme to clean up the borough’s air and boost walking and cycling. The multi-million pound ‘Enjoy Waltham Forest’ project features road redesigns, bike training, extra cycle storage and school cycling workshops – all of which improve people’s health and create happier communities. Calmer streets have also encouraged shoppers to use local businesses. By seeking out and acting on resident feedback, the ambitious project overcame a rocky start and now attracts interest from around the world.
UK Ashden Award for Sustainable Buildings, supported by Garfield Weston Foundation
The UK must retrofit 26 million homes by 2050 in order to radically cut carbon emissions. Energiesprong – ‘energy leap’ in Dutch – is an innovative solution that could play a big role in hitting this target. With backing from the National Energy Foundation (NEF), Energiesprong UK helps social housing providers around the country use the system to create warmer, greener homes. Walls and other large components are made off-site, which allows whole-house retrofits to be done quickly and with minimum disruption to tenants. Energiesprong could radically cut carbon from the UK’s housing stock, and work comes with a 30 year energy performance guarantee.
Ashden Award for Sustainable Mobility
Rickshaw drivers in India work long hours with low pay and job security, in cities where air pollution is many times higher than World Health Organisation guidelines. In 2017, 1.2 million people in the country were killed by the effects of air pollution. SMV Green creates fair working conditions, with electric rickshaws and reliable contracts – empowering drivers to buy their vehicles and earn more money, and taking steps towards healthier cities. The organisation’s radical Vahini programme is training India’s first women rickshaw drivers, creating secure incomes for them and offering safety and peace of mind for their female passengers.
International Ashden Award for Sustainable Cities and Buildings, supported by Grosvenor
EQuota Energy has saved customers more than $6.8 million in energy bills, and prevented more than 150,000 tons of CO2 emissions. The Chinese software company gives the country’s building owners and landlords world-leading smart energy management solutions. By monitoring energy use and drawing on artificial intelligence and ‘big data’ technology, EQuota helps buildings become more energy efficient. The result? Lower energy costs and reduced urban pollution – all without any intrusive equipment or installation work.
Ashden Award for Sustainable Energy and Healthcare supported by the Ashden Donors Circle
Reliable energy transforms healthcare, creating better services that reach more people. India’s Karuna Trust delivers effective healthcare using solar power and energy-efficient buildings and equipment, in areas that suffer up to eight hours of power cuts every day. The trust’s unique approach integrates energy and health at a fundamental level, empowering clinical staff and local communities. It is the most marginalised patients who benefit most – no longer having to travel long distances for specialist care, or risk power cuts mid-treatment.
Ashden Award for Clean Cooking, supported by Waterloo Foundation
Small farmers grow most of the world’s food, and agricultural systems have a huge impact on climate change. Sistema.bio, based in Mexico, has created an innovative, affordable biogas system that turns animal waste into the cleanest of cooking fuels and produces a planet-friendly super fertiliser – boosting productivity while lowering carbon emissions. The product’s simple, modular design makes it easy to add more capacity if needed, and the option to pay in instalments makes it available to more farmers. Buyers in Latin America, Africa and Asia no longer have to cook using expensive and polluting wood fuel or fossil fuels. They save money and our forests and climate are protected.
Ashden Award for Innovative Finance, supported by Citi
The innovative Beyond the Grid Fund for Zambia, funded by Sweden and developed and implemented by the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP), has brought clean energy to 119,000 households, businesses and institutions who would otherwise struggle to afford it. It has done this by making it less risky for businesses to enter the country’s off-grid energy market. Many households in one of the world’s poorest countries can now buy lights and mobile phones for the very first time – including many families living in isolated rural areas. The fund builds the market by offering financial incentives to renewable energy companies – their performance is closely watched and payments are linked to the financial requirements of the project. Crucially, the scheme ensures that only high quality products are sold.
Ashden Award for Powering Business, supported by UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
In India wild silk has long been prized as a premium product, with skilled women reeling silk from cocoons to be woven into beautiful fabrics. But thigh-reeling, the traditional process of producing thread, is a physically demanding and undignified process. Women must work long hours to make a living, with few chances to grow their income. Resham Sutra has developed a range of affordable electric reeling machines – many powered by solar energy – that vastly improve working conditions and create a predictable, dramatically higher income for over 9,000 silk workers.
International Ashden Award for Cooling by Nature, supported by the Kigali Cooling Efficiency Programme with Sustainable Energy for All
After enduring years of high crime and violence, the Colombian city of Medellín faces a new threat – rising urban temperatures, driven by climate change. The response of the city authorities (Alcaldía de Medellin) to this global problem brings people together, planting vegetation to create a better environment for everyone. The Green Corridors project shades cyclists and pedestrians, cools built up areas and cleans the air along busy roads. The city’s botanical gardens train people from disadvantaged backgrounds to become city gardeners and planting technicians. Temperatures have fallen by two or three degrees Celsius in places, with bigger reductions expected in the future.