An Energy Prize From the Middle East

Competitions with cash prizes are increasingly being seen by philanthropies, businesses, and governments as a way to spur innovation towards social goals.  This trend is moving out of the U.S. and Europe to other parts of the world.  Today the Zayed Future Energy Prize, based in Abu Dhabi, has announced the top six finalists to compete for the 2011 Prize.  It might seem strange that an oil rich state in the Gulf is focused on promoting alternative energy but Abu Dhabi has been particularly forward looking in thinking about the future of energy.  Abu Dhabi is home to Masdar City, a $22 billion planned community that is aiming to be carbon neutral and serve as a hub for renewable energy and clean technology companies.

According to the organization’s website, “This annual award celebrates achievements that reflect innovation, long-term vision and leadership in renewable energy and sustainability.”  The winner will receive $1.5 million and two runner ups will get $350,000.  The finalists are:

Amory B. Lovins, the Chairman and Chief Scientist of the Rocky Mountain Institute in Colorado, for his work on “integrative design” for energy efficient buildings. Lovins describes “integrative design” as a powerful and globally applicable new tool for shifting rapidly from oil and coal to efficiency and renewables.

Barefoot College, the only fully solar electrified College in India, for training woman in rural areas to contribute to solar energy development. The college believes the very poor have every right to have access to, control, and manage and own the most sophisticated of technologies to improve their own lives.

E+Co, an investment company based in New Jersey, for its pioneering clean energy investments in the developing world. E+Co supports and invests in small and growing clean energy enterprises in developing countries that impact climate change and energy poverty.

First Solar, solar modules manufacturer based in Arizona, for its commitment to solar energy and the development of more efficient thin film solar modules. First Solar has developed an innovative photovoltaic technology focused on affordability as well as sustainability and is the preferred module supplier for major PV projects globally.

Terry Tamminen, CEO and Founder of 7th Generation Advisors, for his work in developing renewable energy solutions in California. For more than 20 years, Tamminen has developed, implemented and replicated effective renewable and sustainable energy solutions by using California as a proof-of-concept model, then scaling up to larger markets within the US and internationally.

Vestas, a Danish manufacturer of wind turbine technology for its work to bring clean energy to developing countries. For over 30 years, Vestas has been introducing innovative ideas to promote clean, renewable wind power as one of the world’s mainstream power solutions. They are relentlessly committed to establishing wind as a large-scale, sustainable alternative to oil and gas.

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