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Global Winners Honoured for Sustainable Energy Innovation



The Ashden Awards, a celebration of international innovation and creativity in the sustainable energy industry. At this year’s Ashden Awards twelve organisations from across the globe have been announced as winners. Winners were presented with their Award at a ceremony hosted by BBC journalist Mishal Husain at the Royal Geographical Society in London last week.

This year’s winners are all at the forefront of innovation when it comes to excellence in sustainable energy.  Included are forward thinking businesses using smart technology to influence how energy is managed in the UK to a Chinese green buildings specialist to a global solar light manufacturer that has reached more than five million households.

The winners of the 2016 Ashden Awards are:

UK Award winners

Cosy Homes in Lancashire (CHiL), a partnership between 14 local authorities  helping to prevent fuel poverty in some of the most deprived areas of the county,  wins the Ashden Award for Sustainable Homes, supported by the Berkeley Group.

Low Carbon Hub in Oxfordshire is a plucky social enterprise determined to put renewable energy in the hands of local people.  The organisation is a joint winner of the Ashden Award for Sustainable Communities, supported by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.

Open Energi – winner of the Impax Ashden Award for Energy Innovation – works with large power-hungry clients to shift their demand for energy in real time, reducing stress on the national grid and helping create the right environment for renewable energy.

The Mayor of London’s highly successful RE:FIT London programme has so far supported the energy efficiency retrofit of more than 600 public sector buildings in London, making huge cost and carbon savings. RE:FIT London wins the Ashden Award for Sustainable Buildings, supported by the Garfield Weston Foundation.

Repowering London works with communities living in social housing in Brixton and Hackney to support them to install and manage their own solar installations Repowering also offers training and employment opportunities to young residents and is a joint winner of the Ashden Award for Sustainable Communities.

Tempus Energy aims to change the way the world buys and uses electricity, using smart equipment to connect customers with the cheapest available energy prices.  Tempus wins the Ashden Award for Smart Energy.

International Award winners

Bridges to Prosperity not only builds bridges but also teaches communities how to build and maintain these connections to healthcare, education and employment.  In total the organisation has completed 180 bridges in the past 14 years, serving more than 800,000 users, and wins the Eurostar Ashden Award for Sustainable Travel.

In India Frontier Markets provide high quality solar lamps and systems to hard-to-reach villages, using a network of trained women called Solar Sahelis. The organisation has sold over 100,000 in Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh, and wins the Ashden Award for Clean Energy for Women and Girls, supported by UK aid.

Greenlight Planet has reached more than four million households in remote regions of the world with its reliable solar products and are well on their way in their mission to deliver light that everyone can afford.  Greenlight Planet wins the Ashden Award for Increasing Energy Access, supported by the IKEA Foundation.

Nazava water filters – winner of the Ashden Award for Sustainable Energy and Water, supported by the Waterloo Foundation – enable lower income households in Indonesia to purify their well or tap water without the need to boil it by burning wood or using electricity. This reduces disease and sickness, lowers household costs and reduces CO2 emissions.

Shanghai Landsea Planning & Architectural Design Co.Ltd is a leading practitioner of green buildings in China, boasting more than 40 projects totalling 2.5 million m2. Landsea wins the Ashden Award for Sustainable Buildings, supported by Grosvenor.

SunFunder in Tanzania is unlocking reliable continuous capital for beyond-the-grid solar companies by providing investors the opportunity to lend to a carefully selected portfolio of solar businesses and has so far provided over $8 million of finance in ten countries. SunFunder wins the Ashden Award for Innovative Finance, supported by Citi.

Sarah Butler-Sloss, Ashden’s Founder Director, said: “The winners of this year’s Ashden Awards are really pushing the boundaries when it comes to innovation, being ahead of the curve and working towards our vision of a world where everyone has access to affordable clean energy.  We are proud to have the opportunity to support their game-changing work.”

The Ashden Awards were established in 2001 to reward and promote sustainable energy trailblazers and help accelerate the transition to a low-carbon world.  Each winner receives prize money as well as tailored support to scale up their work.


Responsible Energy Investments Could Solve Retirement Funding Crisis




Energy Investments
Shutterstock / By Sergey Nivens |

Retiring baby-boomers are facing a retirement cliff, at the same time as mother nature unleashes her fury with devastating storms tied to the impact of global warming. There could be a unique solution to the challenges associated with climate change – investments in clean energy from retirement funds.

Financial savings play a very important role in everyone’s life and one must start planning for it as soon as possible. It’s shocking how quickly seniors can burn through their nest egg – leaving many wondering, “How long will my retirement savings last?”

Let’s take a closer look at how seniors can take baby steps on the path to retiring with dignity, while helping to clean up our environment.

Tip #1: Focus & Determination

Like in other work, it is very important to focus and be determined. If retirement is around the corner, then make sure to start putting some money away for retirement. No one can ever achieve anything without dedication and focus – whether it’s saving the planet, or saving for retirement.

Tip #2: Minimize Spending

One of the most important things that you need to do is to minimize your expenditures. Reducing consumption is good for the planet too!

Tip #3: Visualize Your Goal

You can achieve more if you have a clearly defined goal in life. This about how your money can be used to better the planet – imagine cleaner air, water and a healthier environment to leave to your grandchildren.

Investing in Clean Energy

One of the hottest and most popular industries for investment today is the energy market – the trading of energy commodities. Clean energy commodities are traded alongside dirty energy supplies. You might be surprised to learn that clean energy is becoming much more competitive.

With green biz becoming more popular, it is quickly becoming a powerful tool for diversified retirement investing.

The Future of Green Biz

As far as the future is concerned, energy businesses are going to continue getting bigger and better. There are many leading energy companies in the market that already have very high stock prices, yet people are continuing to investing in them.

Green initiatives are impacting every industry. Go Green campaigns are a PR staple of every modern brand. For the energy-sector in the US, solar energy investments are considered to be the most accessible form of clean energy investment. Though investing in any energy business comes with some risks, the demand for energy isn’t going anywhere.

In conclusion, if you want to start saving for your retirement, then clean energy stocks and commodity trading are some of the best options for wallets and the planet. Investing in clean energy products, like solar power, is a more long-term investment. It’s quite stable and comes with a significant profit margin. And it’s amazing for the planet!

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What Should We Make of The Clean Growth Strategy?



Clean Growth Strategy for green energy
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By sdecoret |

It was hardly surprising the Clean Growth Strategy (CGS) was much anticipated by industry and environmentalists. After all, its publication was pushed back a couple of times. But with the document now in the public domain, and the Government having run a consultation on its content, what ultimately should we make of what’s perhaps one of the most important publications to come out of the Department for Business, Energy and the Industrial Strategy (BEIS) in the past 12 months?

The starting point, inevitably, is to decide what the document is and isn’t. It is, certainly, a lengthy and considered direction-setter – not just for the Government, but for business and industry, and indeed for consumers. While much of the content was favourably received in terms of highlighting ways to ensure clean growth, critics – not unjustifiably – suggested it was long on pages but short on detailed and finite policy commitments, accompanied by clear timeframes for action.

A Strategy, Instead of a Plan

But should we really be surprised? The answer, in all honesty, is probably not really. BEIS ministers had made no secret of the fact they would be publishing a ‘strategy’ as opposed to a ‘plan,’ and that gave every indication the CGS would set a direction of travel and be largely aspirational. The Government had consulted on its content, and will likely respond to the consultation during the course of 2018. And that’s when we might see more defined policy commitments and timeframes from action.

The second criticism one might level at the CGS is that indicated the use of ‘flexibilities’ to achieve targets set in the carbon budgets – essentially using past results to offset more recent failings to keep pace with emissions targets. Claire Perry has since appeared in front of the BEIS Select Committee and insisted she would be personally disappointed if the UK used flexibilities to fill the shortfall in meeting the fourth and fifth carbon budgets, but this is difficult ground for the Government. The Committee on Climate Change was critical of the proposed use of efficiencies, which would somewhat undermine ministers’ good intentions and commitment to clean growth – particularly set against November’s Budget, in which the Chancellor maintained the current carbon price floor (potentially giving a reprieve to coal) and introduced tax changes favourable to North Sea oil producers.

A 12 Month Green Energy Initiative with Real Teeth

But, there is much to appreciate and commend about the CGS. It fits into a 12-month narrative for BEIS ministers, in which they have clearly shown a commitment to clean growth, improving energy efficiency and cutting carbon emissions. Those 12 months have seen the launch of the Industrial Strategy – firstly in Green Paper form, which led to the launch of the Faraday Challenge, and then a White Paper in which clean growth was considered a ‘grand challenge’ for government. Throughout these publications – and indeed again with the CGS – the Government has shown itself to be an advocate of smart systems and demand response, including the development of battery technology.

Electrical Storage Development at Center of Broader Green Energy Push

While the Faraday Challenge is primarily focused on the development of batteries to support the proliferation of electric vehicles (which will support cuts to carbon emissions), it will also drive down technology costs, supporting the deployment of small and utility-scale storage that will fully harness the capability of renewables. Solar and wind made record contributions to UK electricity generation in 2017, and the development of storage capacity will help both reduce consumer costs and support decarbonisation.

The other thing the CGS showed us it that the Government is happy to be a disrupter in the energy market. The headline from the publication was the plans for legislation to empower Ofgem to cap the costs of Standard Variable Tariffs. This had been an aspiration of ministers for months, and there’s little doubt that driving down costs for consumers will be a trend within BEIS policy throughout 2018.

But the Government also seems happy to support disruption in the renewables market, as evidenced by the commitment (in the CGS) to more than half a billion pounds of investment in Pot 2 of Contracts for Difference (CfDs) – where the focus will be on emerging rather than established technologies.

This inevitably prompted ire from some within the industry, particularly proponents of solar, which is making an increasing contribution to the UK’s energy mix. But, again, we shouldn’t really be surprised. Since the subsidy cuts of 2015, ministers have given no indication or cause to think there will be public money afforded to solar development. Including solar within the CfD auction would have been a seismic shift in policy. And while ministers’ insistence in subsidy-free solar as the way forward has been shown to be based on a single project, we should expect that as costs continue to be driven down and solar makes record contributions to electricity generation, investment will follow – and there will ultimately be more subsidy-free solar farms, albeit perhaps not in 2018.

Meanwhile, by promoting emerging technologies like remote island wind, the Government appears to be favouring diversification and that it has a range of resources available to meet consumer demand. Perhaps more prescient than the decision to exclude established renewables from the CfD auction is the subsequent confirmation in the budget that Pot 2 of CfDs will be the last commitment of public money to renewable energy before 2025.

In short, we should view the CGS as a step in the right direction, albeit one the Government should be elaborating on in its consultation response. Its publication, coupled with the advancement this year of the Industrial Strategy indicates ministers are committed to the clean growth agenda. The question is now how the aspirations set out in the CGS – including the development of demand response capacity for the grid, and improving the energy efficiency of commercial and residential premises – will be realised.

It’s a step in the right direction. But, inevitably, there’s much more work to do.

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