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Member Spotlight – Ashden Awards

The 2017 finalists for the Ashden Awards

By Ellie Mika, Communications team, Ashden

Since 2001, Ashden has been awarding and supporting the most innovative sustainable energy projects from around the globe. From renewable energy to innovative finance to empowering women and girls through clean energy, Ashden uncovers the best in sustainable energy each year and shows the world its potential to improve lives, boost economic growth and accelerate the transition to a low-carbon world.

This year’s finalists are no different. There are eight UK-based finalists and fourteen international organizations and programmes from across the globe shortlisted for the 2017 Ashden Awards. Energy Access Practitioner Network members Angaza Design, Empower Generation, Mobisol, PEG Africa and SunCulture are amongst this year’s finalists.

The 2017 Ashden Awards will take place on 15 June at the Royal Geographical Society.

Making energy affordable and accessible

East Africa is where the revolution of using mobile payments for off-grid solar electrification started. Mobisol is taking this to new levels, selling high power solar systems which can be used not just for homes but for small businesses, enabling entrepreneurial customers to earn additional income. Customers can use fridges, watch TV and charge mobile phones without relying on fossil fuels or intermittent grid connection.

Mobisol television being tested. Photo credit: Ashden

Mobisol has installed over 80,000 solar home systems in East Africa so far, benefitting more than 400,000 people. It’s adapting to the fast-moving world of mobile technology and providing customers with affordable payment plans, comprehensive customer service and ultimately a happier and healthier life.

Mary Atiena with agent demonstrating Angaza’s pay-as-you-go technology. Photo credit: Martin Wright/Ashden

Access to electricity in rural areas is limited and can be expensive. Angaza Design is enabling manufacturers and distributors to make energy products affordable to the world’s one billion off-grid consumers through pay as you go (PAYG). They partner with manufacturers of solar products ranging from small study lamps to higher-wattage solar home systems that can charge mobile phones, and power TVs and multiple lights at once.

Their technology is being used in over 25,000 solar home systems in 17 countries around the world.

Margaret Gbedema, PEG Africa customer, with her solar system, Nornyikto Village, Volta Region. Photo credit: Martin Wright/Ashden

PEG Africa is leading the way in making energy products more affordable in West Africa, where over 150 million people are currently living without electricity and people are having to spend a lot of money on poor quality, polluting fuels. Solar energy systems give off-grid households a safer and more reliable energy source, providing brighter constant light, making it easier to study and cook by, and making houses less smoky.

PEG Africa provides solar energy products on credit, allowing customers to pay back the system over a 12-month period using mobile money. PEG is the largest off-grid solar company in Ghana, as well as a driving force for PAYG solar energy in West Africa, distributing clean energy to the country’s most remote areas, including those without roads or running water. To date, they have sold over 22,000 solar systems.

Daniel Mwaura, a SunCulture customer with his drip-irrigated onions, Gatamayu, Naivasha. Photo credit: Martin Wright/Ashden

Providing a reliable water source

Farmers across Africa face many challenges including unreliable rainfall due to climate change, low crop yields, high energy costs, lack of access to modern farming technology and insufficient access to capital. SunCulture’s solar pumps and irrigation kits make it cheaper and easier for farmers to grow higher quality crops.

SunCulture designs, manufactures, finances and distributes solar-powered irrigation systems that make it simpler and cheaper for farmers in Kenya to grow high quality produce. Passionate about the intersection between technology and agriculture, SunCulture is improving smallholder farmer livelihoods and environmental sustainability. The organization is launching a Pay-As-You-Grow program to help address the $150 billion global shortfall in agriculture finance.

Empowering women through solar

Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world, with half the population living below the poverty line and more than half living without access to reliable power. Nepal-based Empower Generation is supporting and empowering women, who tend to be disproportionately affected by energy poverty, to become entrepreneurs by training them to own a solar business and manage a sales force.

 

Sales Agent Shumitra Chaudhari in the shop that she has recently opened selling clean energy and beauty products (Udasipur, Kailali District, Nepal). Photo credit: Ashden

The organization is bringing clean energy to vulnerable communities in Nepal, helping to eradicate poverty, improve health, and reduce carbon emissions, empowering women at the same time. Their products, lanterns, home systems and clean cookstoves, are reducing carbon emissions as well as improving lives through light and clean cooking.

The 2017 Ashden Awards

The Energy Access Practitioner Network finalists are pioneers in sustainable energy and Ashden is proud to have such excellent organizations in the running for this year’s Awards.

The Ashden Awards take place on Thursday 15 June at the Royal Geographical Society in London. Channel 4 presenter Krishnan Guru-Murthy will host the Awards and former Vice-President of the US Al Gore is the keynote speaker.

Get your tickets to the Ashden Awards Ceremony 2017 here.