His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, presented the Zayed Future Energy Prize to nine winners during the 2017 awards ceremony in Abu Dhabi today, in the presence of six heads of state.
Nine pioneers in renewable energy and sustainability across five categories became the latest awardees to join the prize’s growing international community of winners. The 2017 recipients of the prize span a wide range of industry expertise, from breakthrough photovoltaic manufacturing to government policy advisory. The Zayed Future Energy Prize has so far recognised 57 individuals and organisations since it was founded in 2008.
His Highness Sheikh Mohamed said: "The legacy of our founding father Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan has led our nation on a path to sustainable development and prosperity. Through this prize, which bears his name, the UAE empowers others to embark on that same path. Today, we celebrate the success of this vision through improved access to energy, technology and water, which in turn presents opportunities for better education, health and employment for women, children and those in need."
His Highness continued: "Launched with the foresight of the President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and with the direction of Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the spirit embodied in the UAE’s ‘Year of Giving’ is equally demonstrated in the Zayed Future Energy Prize, which encourages others to give on a global scale. These winning organisations, individuals and schools are giving with the impact, innovation, leadership and long-term vision that can overcome today’s challenges and make the most of tomorrow’s opportunities."
Li Junfeng, Director-General of China’s National Center of Climate Strategy Research, won the Lifetime Achievement award for his unwavering commitment to the adoption of renewable energy in China. In a career spanning more than 30 years, Mr. Li has been instrumental in advancing the country’s renewable energy policies, which have spurred record levels of clean energy investment in China.
General Electric, GE, won the Large Corporation award for leadership in the wind and solar energy markets. GE’s wind business alone has commissioned 41.3 GW of total generating capacity and installed more than 30,000 wind turbines to date.
Sonnen, the German smart home and commercial energy storage system manufacturer, was awarded the prize in the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) category for leadership in providing battery storage technology solutions. In the Non-Profit Organisation (NPO) category, UK-based Practical Action was recognised for its work in providing deprived communities with clean energy in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Joining them were the winners in the Global High Schools category, five schools spanning five regions of the globe.
Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, former president of Iceland and Chair of the Zayed Future Energy Prize Jury, said: "Through the sustainable actions of its winners, the Zayed Future Energy Prize is a model example for how far the world has come in the last nine years. It is extraordinary that, through the impact of each winner and the lives they continue to improve, we now see a growing strength in being able to deliver a sustainable future."
Since its inception, the Zayed Future Energy Prize has received over 10,000 nominations and submissions from more than 100 countries. In 2016 alone, the prize received a record 1,676 entries from 103 different nations, a 22 per cent increase on the previous record set the year before.
Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, UAE Minister of State, said: "The Zayed Future Energy Prize continues to honour the legacy of sustainability advocated by the UAE’s late founding father Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. With each awards ceremony, the UAE leadership accelerates the pursuit of innovation, reinforces the significance of sustainability at the top of the global agenda, and gives opportunities and far-reaching benefits to communities around the world."
Now in its ninth cycle, the Zayed Future Energy Prize continues to empower winners that are delivering significant impact across the world. These winners are providing the means for women to be social entrepreneurs delivering sustainable solutions in South-East Asia, for communities to be given new, sustainable, ways to receive and use electricity in Europe, for cities in Asia and Africa to be reshaped around new sustainable-transport innovations, and for people and communities to have a voice in shaping sustainable energy policies across the globe.
Dr. Al Jaber continued: "During the last nine years, the Zayed Future Energy Prize has been a demonstration of the UAE’s commitment to encouraging and rewarding innovation on a global scale. By recognising pioneers in the renewable energy and sustainability sectors, the prize has positively impacted the lives of more than 280 million people through its winners."
In 2012, the Global High Schools category was launched as part of the UAE leadership’s commitment to the Sustainable Energy for All (SEforAll) initiative and educating future generations about sustainability. Completing its fifth year, the category has empowered 24 schools to incorporate renewable energy and sustainability into their schools and curricula.
The five winners in the Global High Schools category are: Starehe Girls' Center, Kenya for the Africa region; Green School Bali, Indonesia for the Asia region; Bolivia’s Unidad Educativa Sagrado Corazon 4 for the Americas; Belvedere College in Ireland for Europe; and Huonville High School, Tasmania for the Oceania region.
The awards ceremony was witnessed by Horacio Cartes, President of the Republic of Paraguay; Luis Guillermo Solis, President of the Republic of Costa Rica; Filip Vujanovic, President of Montenegro; Nursultan Nazarbayev, President of the Republic of Kazakhstan; and Danny Faure, President of the Republic of Seychelles; and Pushpa Kamal Dahal, Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal.
The prize will open again for submissions and nominations for its landmark 10th year later this month.