Five Indian organisations have been selected as finalists for this year’s Ashden Awards, the world’s leading green energy awards, ahead of an awards ceremony at the Royal Geographical Society in London on 22 May 2014.
India faces stark energy challenges. Some 400 million Indians live without access to modern forms of electricity, while 159 million cook using traditional fuels like wood and dung, which harms health and pollutes the air. At the same time, the growing economy is placing ever greater strain on the already over-stretched national electricity grid.
Said Sarah Butler-Sloss, Ashen Founder Director: “India is a hotbed of innovation in sustainable energy: from social enterprises that are meeting the energy needs of some of the poorest people in the country, to an IT giant that’s achieving staggering energy savings across all its business campuses. Together all five organisations are leading examples of what can be achieved. The rest of the world should take note.”
The Indian finalists for the 2014 Ashden Awards are:
Sakhi Unique Rural Enterprise [SURE], Maharashtra
SURE is a not-for-profit social enterprise in central Maharashtra that has selected, trained and supported more than 600 women micro-entrepreneurs to sell clean energy products like solar lanterns and cleaner cookstoves to other women. For the entrepreneurs, selling energy products boosts income and carries a social cachet, while customers also see their lives improved with time-saving products.
Greenway Grameen, Mumbai
Greenway Grameen is a rapidly growing clean cookstoves business co-founded by entrepreneurs Neha Juneja and Ankit Matthur just two years after they completed their MBA in 2008. Greenway Grameen’s mission is to provide an affordable, desirable cookstove to improve quality of life for Indian women. So far the company has sold more than 120,000 stoves, thanks to clever marketing and a focus on designing a product that women actually want to use.
Both Greenway Grameen and SURE are finalists for the Ashden Clean Energy for Women and Girls Award.
The Rajasthan Horticulture Development Society
Farmers in the desert state of Rajasthan are seeing their sons return from cities to work on their farms thanks to a solar-powered agricultural boom. The Rajasthan Horticulture Development Society (RHDS) has provided more than 10,000 farmers with new solar-powered water pumps, enabling year-round cultivation of high-value crops and the kind of high-tech horticulture that’s never been seen in the region before. With farmers’ incomes more than doubling, the programme has given them the ‘gift of life’. RHDS is a finalist for the USAID Ashden Energy for Agriculture Award.
Since 2008, global IT giant Infosys has cut more than $80 million from its energy bills and reduced electricity consumption per staff member by 44%. Its success lies in seizing every opportunity to reduce energy consumption in its existing buildings – from reducing the size of chiller plants for air conditioning, to painting roofs white so they reflect the heat. Cutting edge design of new buildings also helps keep offices cooler and maximises natural light. Infosys is a finalist for the Ashden Award for Sustainable Buildings.
Mera Gao Power, Utter Pradesh
Mera Gao Power is demonstrating the business case for meeting the needs of the some of the poorest people in India with the pioneering use of unsubsidised commercial micro grids, which have so far connected more than 20,000 families to clean, affordable power. Each system is easy to install and provides seven hours of light and mobile phone-charging for up to 32 houses. Mera Gao Power is a finalist for the Citi Ashden Award for Innovation in Finance.
Now in their 14th year, the Ashden Awards celebrate pioneering businesses and organisations that are helping tackle climate change and improving people’s lives. Some 20 organisations in India have won Ashden Awards since 2001. In 2010, Indian Ashden Award winners formed the Ashden India Renewable Energy Collective, which acts as a voice for the sustainable energy sector in India.
A total of 14 Ashden Award winners will be announced at ceremony at the Royal Geographical Society in London on 22 May 2014. Winners will receive up to £40,000 and global recognition as one of 2014’s green energy leaders.