Bangladeshi Solar Energy Boat project wins US$60,000 Ashden Award

London, June 22: The Ashden Awards for Sustainable Energy, held in London, United Kingdom, awarded ventures from Bangladesh, China, India, Laos and Tanzania first prizes of US$60,000 each to further their schemes. Projects ranged from solar-powered home systems and mini-hydropower plants for remote villages, to food waste and dung biogas plants for urban areas.One of the prize winners for Education, Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha designed a fleet of solar-powered boats to deliver education and supplies to the remote Chalanbeel region of Bangladesh. The locally produced boats provide floating classrooms for primary level schoolchildren, and are equipped with a library and Internet access.

Bangladesh is a land of water, and during the five month monsoon season two-fifths of the country is flooded,” says the organisation’s executive director, Abul Hasanat Mohammed Rezwan. “Children can’t go to school, so we thought the school should come to them.

The boats also bring training in sustainable agriculture to local farmers -surveys suggest this has increased their income by up to 45 per cent. With the prize money, Rezwan and colleagues plan to design a new, all-purpose boat, containing all the facilities in one vessel.

“Due to climate change, over the next 20 years, ten per cent of our land will be lost to floods,” says Rezwan. “Issues like this need local solutions, and local people need to be involved at every level.

A project to turn waste food into cooking gas has picked up US$60,000 in an international competition to find the best sustainable energy schemes. The project in India collected the prize in one of the five international categories of the Ashden Awards for Sustainable Energy.

Another prize winner, the Beijing Shenzhou Daxu Bio-energy Technology Company from China, has developed a new biomass stove that burns agricultural waste and wood instead of coal. The stove is 40 per cent more efficient than conventional stoves and produces little smoke, decreasing the problem of indoor air pollution for rural Chinese people. The stove reduces the cost of cooking and heating by 50 per cent, and can be fitted with a boiler, bringing hot water and central heating to homes, some for the first time.

Pan Shijiao, one of the founders of the company, points out that there are many benefits to the stove, including health and environmental ones. A biomass stove produces eight tonnes of carbon dioxide less in a year than a coal stove. This can have a major impact on climate change, Pan says, especially if the stoves are used throughout China and other developing countries.

In recognition of the importance of these ground-breaking initiatives in the fight against climate change, former US Vice President Mr Al Gore, will present the prizes at the Ashden Awards ceremony held at the Royal Geographical Society, London, on 21st June. The event will be hosted by Anna Ford and attended by grassroots, public sector and business enterprises, with an additional VIP event.

“Our winners show how sustainable energy can improve health, education and livelihoods and at the same time reduce carbon emissions,” said Sarah Butler-Sloss, who headed the judging panel.

“If these technologies were expanded and replicated on a large scale, they would play a significant role in helping us to tackle climate change and poverty. What we need now is the political will to scale up and roll out these solutions” he added.

Sunlabob Renewable Energies Ltd of Laos won light and power and Tanzania’s Zara Solar Ltd won the Africa award.

The Ashden Awards were founded in 2001 by the Ashden Trust, one of the Sainsbury family charitable trusts. They are awarded each year to deserving projects that can benefit local communities and also be expanded to boost sustainable development.

The international categories cover enterprise, food security, light and power, education and welfare, and Africa.

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Sources:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/technology/technology.html?in_article_id=463683&in_page_id=1965
http://www.scidev.net/gateways/index.cfm?fuseaction=readitem&rgwid=2&item=News&itemid=3706&language=1
http://www.newbuilder.co.uk/news/NewsFullStory.asp?ID=2016

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Collected from: Voice Of South (http://voiceofsouth.org)

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