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Zayed Future Energy Prize

DRIVING GLOBAL SUSTAINABILITY An exclusive with Zayed Future Energy Prize Director, Dr Nawal Al-Hosany By: Nicholas Paul Griffin


Zayed Future Energy Prize


Aspire Africa · July/Aug 2016


The Zayed Future Energy Prize celebrates outstanding achievements in renewable energy and sustainability


he Zayed Future Energy Prize is the UAE’s international award for pioneers of renewable energy and sustainability. The prize was established by the UAE leadership in 2008 to honour the legacy of economic, social and environmental sustainability advocated by the nation’s founding father, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. The US$4 million annual award invites innovators from around the world to be involved in a growing community committed to discovering solutions to the rising challenges of energy security, climate change and the environment. The prize celebrates outstanding achievements in renewable energy and sustainability, rewarding some of the most visionary and innovative leaders in these fields. Aspire Africa spoke recently with the prize’s director, Dr Nawal AlHosany, to discuss its growing influence in renewable energy and sustainability.

Masdar The Zayed Future Energy Prize is managed by Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s leading renewable energy company, under the leadership of His Excellency Dr Sultan Al Jaber in his capacity as Director General. Dr Al-Hosany currently holds the title of Director of Sustainability for Masdar, a role which has helped fulfil her position at the head of the Zayed Future Energy Prize and advance the prestige of the prize. “I oversee implementation of the objectives, mandate and strategic direction of the prize as director,” Dr Al-Hosany explains, “and I am 4

Zayed Future Energy Prize

supported by a small team of hard-working and enthusiastic staff, most of whom are young Emirati women.” The prestigious jury is chaired by His Excellency Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, President of the Republic of Iceland, and Vice-Chaired by Dr Han Seung-Soo, former Prime Minister of the Republic of Korea and the UN SecretaryGeneral’s Special Envoy for Disaster Risk Reduction and Water. “It also includes Kenyan national Adnan Amin, Director General of the International Renewable Energy Agency. Her Excellency Elizabeth Dipuo Peters, the Minister of Transport of the Republic of South Africa, was formerly a member.”

Encouraging Collaboration To enter into the prize, candidates from across the world are invited to submit in three of the five categories: Small and Medium Enterprise (SME), Non-Profit Organisation (NPO) and Global High Schools. Nominations are sought for both the remaining category of Large Corporation and the Lifetime Achievement Award. Entries are currently open for the 9th Zayed Future Energy Prize, with nominations and submissions set to close on Monday the 27th June 2016. Following a rigorous evaluation process, winners are chosen by a jury of influential leaders, voices and advocates committed to the global effort of accelerating the adoption of renewable energy and sustainability. Each category is evaluated on four criteria: impact, innovation, leadership and long-term vision. The 8th Zayed Future Energy Prize attracted a record number of entries, boasting 1,437 submissions and nominations from 97 countries.

The prize reflects the vision of the UAE’s founding father, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan, who championed environmental stewardship


Dr Nawal Al-Hosany Director Zayed Future Energy Prize “This underlines the truly global reach of the prize and the farsighted vision shown by the UAE government in sustainability and renewable energy. Nine winners collected the prize at an awards ceremony held during Abu Dhabi sustainability week in January this year.” The prize reflects the vision of the UAE’s founding father, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan, who championed environmental stewardship. In 8 years, more than $25m in funding has been awarded to 48 organisations, individuals and high schools

from across the world. “The benefits of competing for the prize do not stop at funding,” Dr Al-Hosany adds. “We are fostering a community that encourages sustainable energy innovation among current and future generations.” The prize therefore encourages collaboration between past winners across all categories, the aim being to offer fresh solutions to the interconnected energy, water and sustainability challenges of the future. Aspire Africa · July/Aug 2016


More than 202 million people around the world are benefitting from the sustainable actions taken by our winners and finalists.� Dr Nawal Al-Hosany

ZFEP Jury selection committee Seven large corporations have been awarded the prize for accelerating the transition to a low-carbon economy, generating renewable energy and advancing sustainable development. There have been four SME winners and one runner-up, rewarded for increasing access to affordable modern energy, creating jobs and boosting economic growth. Five NPO winners and two runners-up are reducing carbon pollution, advocating cleaner business and improving health. Six individual winners and four runners-up are pioneering sustainable solutions, empowering women and driving government policy. Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, there have been nineteen winning high schools that are responsible for enhancing education, inspiring young minds and supporting local communities. “More than 202 million people around the world are benefitting from the sustainable actions taken by our winners and finalists. The 6

Zayed Future Energy Prize

combined accomplishments include enabling modern energy access for 21 million people across Africa and Asia, more than half of whom are children, [and] displacing 887 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.� Other achievements include providing safe drinking water for 7 million people, improving environmental conditions for at least 4 million people by promoting clean energy investment and policy by national governments, and increasing energy efficiency to save 65 million megawatt hours of electricity through energy saving products and services.

Prestigious Winners Since the announcement of the first prize by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces at the World Future Energy Summit in 2008, there have been many prestigious winners that have gone on to take great strides in the renewable energy sector.

African winners of the award include M-Kopa Solar (Kenya), Off Grid Electric (Tanzania) and Nkhata Bay School Authority (Malawi)


Kenya’s M-Kopa was awarded the 2015 Zayed Future Energy Prize in the Small and Medium Enterprise category for its innovative approach to deploying solar energy to customers living off the grid in rural Africa. M-Kopa is the first company headquartered in Sub-Saharan Africa to have won the prize. The company combines mobile payments with GSM sensor technology in order to lease solar power systems. The firm invested the US$1.5 million award in the launch of a new internal training and development programme, run from its Nairobi headquarters to provide technical and business skills development to employees, sales agents and partners. The training facility has been named The Zayed Centre in honour of the prize’s namesake and in recognition of the impact the prize has had and continues to have on the company and the region.

Jesse Moore CEO & Co-Founder of M-Kopa receives award Since October 2012, M-Kopa has connected over 300,000 homes to solar power across Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, continuing to reach 500 new homes each day, and is now the market leader in ‘pay-as-you-go’ energy services for off-grid customers in East Africa. Another success story is that of Tanzanian energy access business, Off Grid Electric, winner of the Zayed Future Energy Prize in the Small and Medium Enterprise category earlier in 2016. The social enterprise provides 45,000 offgrid homes in Tanzania with access to clean electricity, cheaper than kerosene or diesel alternatives. Around 225,000 people benefit from Off Grid Electric’s solar home systems, which customers pay for using mobile money.

Xavier Helgesen, CEO & Co-Founder, Off Grid Electric

After installation, a household can save up to US$15.50 per month on lighting and mobile phone-charging bills and reduce household carbon emissions by 0.019 tonnes of CO2 and 0.2 kg of black carbon. Aspire Africa · July/Aug 2016


More than 202 million people around the world are benefitting from the sustainable actions taken by our winners and finalists.” Dr Nawal Al-Hosany

Zayed Solar Academy under construction in Malawi In February 2015, Off Grid Electric furthered its cause to reduce household carbon emissions by announcing its ‘Million Solar Homes’ initiative, implemented in partnership with the President of Tanzania. One of the most notable winners of the prize so far has come from the education sector, in the shape of the Nkhata Bay School Authority in Malawi. Situated in one of the poorest rural areas of Malawi, with no access to a municipal electricity grid, the two local Secondary Community Day Schools conduct classes in poorly-lit and poorly-ventilated conditions. In 2014, Nkhata Bay School Authority won in the Global High Schools category for the Africa region, receiving US$100,000 to fund a vocational training program, instructing young people in the design, installation and maintenance of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. 8

Zayed Future Energy Prize

The Zayed Solar Academy was established to administer the nine-month programme, where students are trained to adapt solar PV technology to the local conditions and conceive ways to make solar-generated electricity more affordable and accessible. Women are greatly encouraged to join the programme. Dikirani Thaulo was the first student from outside the Nkhata Bay area to enrol at the academy, joining the Solar Teacher Training Program, accredited by a national education body, in the hope of establishing a second Zayed Solar Academy in Malawi’s central region. Since beginning the teacher training course, Dikirani has represented the Zayed Solar Academy by speaking about the opportunities offered by the Zayed Future Energy Prize at the 2nd Sustainable Energy for All forum in New York and at a meeting of the International

Now more than ever, producing energy from zero-emission sources makes business sense.” Dr Nawal Al-Hosany

Renewable Energy Agency on the side-lines of the Paris Climate Negotiations.

A Sustainable Energy Future “Now more than ever,” Dr Al-Hosany explains, “producing energy from zero-emission sources makes business sense, largely due to the falling cost in the technology involved. And, this is true across the entire spectrum, from utility-scale projects to small-scale distributed generation and off-grid micro solutions.” The price of PV panels has fallen 95% since 2008, while the rate of sunlight to electricity conversion continues to rise. At the beginning of March, Panasonic, winner of the Zayed Future Energy Prize in the Large Corporation category in 2015, announced the world’s highest-ever energy conversion


efficiency rate of 23.8% for a PV module. Panasonic plans to donate 100,000 solar lanterns by 2018 to non-profit, nongovernmental and international organisations operating in Southeast Asia, South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa to improve and enhance the quality of life in communities without electricity. “There is a trend of small-scale rooftop solar installations gathering pace,” Dr Al-Hosany adds. “In some areas, these installations will be connected to the grid, offering a distributed electricity generation solution.” In areas with unreliable grids, the systems can be self-contained and combined with mobile payment, like those developed by prizewinners Off Grid Electric and M-Kopa, and used to rapidly expand energy access in parts of Africa.

Dikirani Thaulo speaking at the SEE4ALL forum at the UN

Aspire Africa · July/Aug 2016


The world is in need of innovative solutions to create a new, sustainable energy future.” Dr Nawal Al-Hosany


His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Honours Nine Sustainability Pioneers Wind power will also come down in cost, with Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) predicting a 32% drop in project costs by 2040. Both these sources of energy, solar and wind, are however ‘variable’. “That is, they are affected by location, weather and time of day,” Dr Al-Hosany explains. “For renewables to be truly competitive with fossil fuels as sources of energy, they will need to deliver reliable and steady energy.” “This is where current developments in battery storage may have a significant effect, balancing supply and demand. Battery technology, like that being developed by Zayed Future Energy Prize winner, BYD, may be a game-changer in the future but it is currently hindered by high costs and shortfalls in performance.” In the meantime, increasing energy efficiency will lower demand and cut waste. Two past 10

prize-winners in the Large Corporation category, ABB and Schneider Electric, are advancing technologies in this area. ABB, the power and automation company, is enhancing infrastructure performance while lowering environmental impact. The company delivers solutions that are modernising the grid. On the other hand, Schneider Electric offers many technologies that enable end-users to better manage energy and achieve higher efficiency. “The world is in need of innovative solutions to create a new, sustainable energy future,” Dr Al-Hosany concludes. “The Zayed Future Energy Prize is ready to recognise and reward these leaders. Visit our website - www. - for more information on how to submit for the 9th awards.” ASPIRE

HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed & President of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto at Awards Ceremony

Ban Ki Moon speaking at Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week 2016

Aspire Africa · July/Aug 2016 11 Tel: +971 2 653 0005 Fax: +971 2 653 6002 Email: Africa:

Zayed Future Energy Prize | Feature  

Driving Global Sustainability, an exclusive with Dr Nawal Al-Hosany, Director of Prize, ZFEP.

Zayed Future Energy Prize | Feature  

Driving Global Sustainability, an exclusive with Dr Nawal Al-Hosany, Director of Prize, ZFEP.