Two Indian enterprises have won top prizes at this year's prestigious Ashden Awards for sustainable energy, popularly known as the 'Green Oscars'.
A Kerala-based company BIOTECH, involved in tackling the problem of dumped food waste, won the Ashden award carrying a monetary prize of £30,000 while a Karnataka firm SELCO Solar Light Private Limited bagged the new Ashden Outstanding Achievement Award and a cash prize of £15,000 for providing dung-based biogas plants to rural families.
Besides, SKG Sangha, a non-profit organisation based in Karnataka received the second prize of £10,000.
Former US Vice President Al Gore, presented the awards at a glittering ceremony at the Royal Geographical Society in London on Thursday night.
BIOTECH was selected for tackling the problem of dumping of food waste in the streets of Kerala through installation of biogas plants that use the waste to produce gas for cooking and, in some cases, electricity for lighting.
To date BIOTECH has built and installed an impressive 12,000 domestic plants, 160 of which also use human waste from latrines to avoid contamination of ground water, 220 institutional plants and 17 municipal plants that use waste from markets to power generations.
"The prize money will be utilised for spreading the work of BIOTECH all over India. We are also getting enquiries from neighbouring countries as people have faith in the scheme," A Sajidas, Director of BIOTECH told PTI.
SELCO Solar Light Private limited had won the Ashden Award in 2005 and this year it won the new Ashden Outstanding Achievement Award in recognition of the remarkable progress it made during the last two years.
H Harish Hande, Managing Director of SELCO said since 2005, his company had increased total sales of solar systems from 48,000 to 71,000 despite nearly a 50 per cent increase in the price of small photo-voltaic modules on the world market.
"We have 25 service centres but we have a long way to go" he said adding that if Government and financial institutions allocated enough funds for the programme it would help spread Solar Service for low-income households a great deal.
BIOTECH, SELCO and SKG Sangha competed with contenders from Bangladesh, China, Ghana, Laos, Nepal, Peru, Philippines and Tanzania for five awards. In all cash prizes totalling £387,500 were up for grabs. There were 18 finalists - ten international and eight from UK.
Other international award winners were Beijing Shenzhou Daxu Bio-Energy Technology Company ltd, China, (Enterprise Award), Zara Solar Ltd, Tanzania (Africa Award), Sunlabob rural Energy Ltd, Laos (Light and Power Award), Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangatha, Bangladesh (Education and Welfare Award).
Sarah Butler-Sloss, founder and chair of the Ashden Awards said: "All the finalists were selected because they stand out as inspiring examples of how providing local sustainable energy solutions to reduce global carbon emissions can reap tremendous social and economic rewards for local communities around the world."