International winners 2007
SELCO is a private business, based in Bangalore, which provides solar-home-systems (SHS) and other solar services to low-income households and institutions. Its network of local sales and service centres are set up where micro-finance organisations can provide loans to customers. All systems are sold on a commercial basis, but SELCO is committed to providing the highest quality services to poor people on financial terms they can afford.
First prize winner – funded by The Swire Group Charitable Trust of John Swire & Sons
Beijing Shenzhou Daxu Bio-energy Technology Company Ltd (Daxu) has succeeded in developing an innovative stove design that replaces coal by burning widely available crop waste as well as burning wood much more efficiently. Most families in China still cook using stoves that burn coal or wood which has led to severe deforestation and dangerous levels of indoor air pollution, particularly from coal use. Crop waste is widely available in China yet very few stove designs have been able to burn this waste effectively. The Daxu stove is not only designed to burn crop waste, either loose or in briquettes, it is also 40% efficient, produces hardly any smoke, cuts cooking and heating costs by 50% and, if it replaces a traditional coal burning stove, it can saves around eight tonnes of CO2 emissions per year. With its two hot plates, it also allows families to cook a stir-fry dish and steamed rice at the same time. Some Daxu stove models also come with a back boiler which provides hot running water and heating to rural families, often for the first time. It is hardly surprising that since September last year, 25,000 models have been sold, with 10,000 sold in the first three months of 2007. There is enormous potential for introducing this technology throughout China, since over 20 million wood and coal stoves are sold each year.
Second prize winner
Centre for Rural Technology
Since its inception in 1989, the Centre for Rural Technology, Nepal, has focused on improving traditional water mills used for centuries by farming communities in the Himalayas. There are over 25,000 of these mills in Nepal that use the power of running water to grind grain into flour. Unfortunately, they can no longer produce enough energy to meet local demand, resulting in a rise in the number of diesel-powered mills. The water mills are also extremely hard work to operate and millers often work 12 hours a day in order to make a living. Since 2003, CRT/Nepal has intensified work to upgrade the water mills making them more efficient and capable of providing other services such as electricity generation and paddy hulling. To date, over 2,400 water mills have been upgraded increasing the grinding capacity by more than 100% cutting down the waiting time for women users, significantly increasing millers income and stemming the rise in diesel mills. It is estimated that each improved mill can offset diesel, equivalent to 2.4 tonnes/year CO2.
First prize winner
BIOTECH has succeeded in tackling the problem of the dumping of food waste in the streets of Kerala through the installation of biogas plants that use the food waste to produce gas for cooking and, in some cases, electricity for lighting; the residue serves as a fertiliser. 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 generators. The disposal of food waste and the production of clean energy are not the only benefits of BIOTECH's scheme. The plants also replace the equivalent of about 3.7 tonnes/day of LPG and diesel which in turn results in the saving of about 3,700 tonnes/year of CO2, with further savings from the reduction in methane production as a result of the uncontrolled decomposition of waste, and from the transport of LPG.
Second prize winner
SKG Sangha has radically improved the lives of thousands of rural families in Karnataka, South India by supplying them with both dung based biogas plants for cooking and a specially designed unit that turns the slurry from the biogas plant into high quality fertiliser. The benefits of biogas are well known. It provides rural women with a cheap, reliable source of energy as well as reducing indoor air pollution and easing pressure on forest resources. Less well known is how turning the biogas residue into high quality fertiliser can increase crop yields and, more importantly, give rural women the chance to make a profit. The units supplied by SKG Sangha produce fertiliser simply by combining the slurry with straw and leaves and then adding worms which re-digest the mixture to produce vermicompost. This vermicompost improves the yields of family crops and the liquid output from the unit can be used as an organic pesticide. The growing demand in India for organic fertiliser means that women can earn as much from selling half the vermicompost they produce as the household earns from selling the crops they grow. Since 1993, SKG Sangha has installed over 43,000 biogas plants in the state of Karnataka alone.
First prize winner
Zara Solar Ltd.
Zara Solar Ltd. is the leading provider of solar PV in Northern Tanzania. Given that only 10% of the whole population and 2% of the rural population have access to the electricity grid in Tanzania, solar energy would seem to be an obvious alternative. However, the up front costs and the problems with providing technical support to more remote areas, limits its appeal. Zara Solar has tackled this problem by selling high-quality, reliable systems at affordable prices and by creating a network of trained technicians that provide technical support to the more remote rural areas. Zara Solar and its sister company Mona-Mwanza Electrical & Electronics, have sold over 3,600 solar PV systems, directly benefiting over 18,000 people and this figure is expected to increase significantly over the coming year. In order to reach yet more people, Zara Solar is exploring micro-finance packages that will allow customers to use the savings made from replacing kerosene, to pay back the cost of the system over time.
Second prize winner
Deng Ltd, an established engineering company in Accra, has developed a viable and sustainable business model for the provision of solar-home-systems to rural areas where access to grid electricity is limited. Deng has done this by venturing out of the capital and setting up a network of dealers to service the more remote areas. Deng has also set up a training centre for solar technicians in order to further expand the business and ensure the future sustainability of the scheme. The training centre, which has already trained 120 people from various sectors, is in itself a significant driver for growth of the solar PV market in Ghana. Whilst Deng does sell and install PV-powered grid backup systems around Accra, the mission and focus of Deng is in providing solar electricity to rural areas that do not have grid access. Since 1998 Deng has supplied 1,000 fixed systems and 6,000 solar lanterns to communities across Ghana.
First prize winner – funded by Climate Care
Sunlabob Renewable Energies Ltd
Sunlabob Renewable Energies Ltd is a solar PV business based in the capital of Laos that has succeeded in developing an innovative and commercially viable business model providing high-quality solar PV systems to the rural poor at a price they can afford. High up-front costs often prevent people from opting for solar energy. Sunlabob has addressed this by providing a service which rents out solar PV at prices that start lower than the cost of kerosene. This commercial approach works because Sunlabob uses high-quality components to ensure reliability and places a strong emphasis on customer support and training local entrepreneurs to maintain the systems. To date 1,870 solar systems, including 20 larger ones for community use, and 500 solar lanterns are rented to families in 73 villages providing electricity for lighting, entertainment and other uses such as refrigeration for vaccines. The potential for growth is huge; Sunlabob is already installing systems at a rate of 500 a year, and new investment this year will allow it to scale up to 2,500 systems, and 5,000 after that.
Second prize winner
Practical Action has transformed the lives of communities living in remote Andean villages through the installation of micro-hydro plants providing electricity to over 30,000 people. Lack of access to electricity for these remote communities has restricted the economic development of the area with many people leaving in search of better opportunities. Since the arrival of micro-hydro the area is thriving as those who had left are returning, bringing their businesses with them, and others are also migrating to the area. Some villages have even doubled in size and for over 60% of villagers, their incomes have increased as a direct result of the micro-hydro power. Crucial to the success of the project is the involvement of the community. The villagers themselves contribute towards installation costs and are responsible for the day-to-day running of the plants. More and more villages are approaching Practical Action for installations and, so far, only a tiny fraction of the micro-hydro potential in the Eastern Andes has been exploited.
First prize winner
Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha
Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha was founded in 1998 to help poor, marginalised communities living in the remote Chalanbeel region of Bangladesh to develop sustainable livelihoods. Shidhulai has achieved this by building up a fleet of flat-bottomed boats, all made with locally available materials, that make their way through the shallow rivers and canals of the Chalanbeel to bring a range of educational services and renewable energy supplies to water-side families. The boats use solar PV modules to generate all the electricity they need to provide daily classes in primary education for children, libraries, training in sustainable agriculture, health advice, mobile phone and internet access and battery-charging facilities. Shidhulai has also provided villagers with 13,500 solar-home-systems, 2,500 lanterns and 15,000 bicycle pumps that deliver between 60 and 100 litres of water per minute - enough to irrigate half a hectare of land during the dry season. By putting into practice the agricultural techniques they have learnt on the boats and using the renewable energy devices, farmers have been able to significantly increase their income and reduce the use of synthetic pesticides, with about one third of farmers eliminating their use altogether.
Second prize winner
Alternative Indigenous Development Foundation Inc. has developed and installed newly designed ram pumps in 68 hillside villages in the Philippines. These ram pumps, capable of pumping water up to 200 metres high, are bringing clean water to over 15,000 people who previously had to undertake often difficult and dangerous journeys just in order to collect clean water. They now have ample water supply, around 200 to 1,000 litres/day for each household, which is used for washing, sanitation and irrigating crops. By developing an improved ram pump design and involving communities in installation and maintenance, AIDFI has avoided the pitfalls other ram pump projects encountered which made them ultimately unsustainable. With the support of the community, AIDFI pumps can last at least twenty years. The success of the scheme has also changed the mindset of local people who now see renewable energy as the best option for them. There is a huge need for this type of technology in areas where there is no immediate access to clean running water.