Renewable energy scheme in Afghanistan up for global green award

Eschborn/Bonn. A partnership bringing renewable energy to rural Afghanistan has been selected alongside seven other contestants from India, Indonesia, Cambodia, Africa and Peru as a finalist for the Ashden Awards, the world’s leading green energy prize. The finalists will compete for over £120,000 prize money, with the winners to be announced at a prestigious ceremony in London on 30 May 2012.

The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and consulting engineers INTEGRATION are bringing electricity to the Badakhshan and Takhar provinces in North East Afghanistan by constructing new off-grid hydro schemes that are capable of weathering the most challenging circumstances. Responding to local sensitivities, all communities get a share of construction work while training in productive uses of electricity is stimulating the growth of small businesses, offering a viable alternative to growing opium.

Working with the Afghan Government, the partners have so far installed six micro-hydro plants with total capacity 1.3MW, providing 24-hour electricity to 63,000 people, 110 public organisations and 645 small enterprises.

Founder Director of Ashden Sarah Butler-Sloss said: “By providing electricity to these remote communities for the first time, GIZ and INTEGRATION are helping new businesses grow, lighting up homes and aiding communication with the outside world. This is a fantastic example of how local renewable energy can bring hope and livelihoods to these communities.”

GIZ, a federal enterprise operating in the field of international cooperation for sustainable development, is working in the awarded program on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The Ashden Awards were founded in 2001 to encourage the greater use of sustainable energy to address climate change and alleviate poverty. Since then our award winners have improved the lives of 33 million people worldwide, saving over 4 million tonnes of CO2 every year.

Some 1.4 billion people around the world lack access to modern energy, while 3 billion rely on “traditional biomass” and coal as their main fuel sources.

Photos of finalists work online: www.ashden.org/media/international_photos/2012_finalists

  1. The Ashden Awards were founded in 2001 to encourage the greater use of local clean energy to address climate change and alleviate poverty. Since then they have rewarded over 140 green energy champions across the UK and the developing world. Ashden showcases and celebrates best practice, encourages the expansion and replication of winners’ work, raises awareness of the potential of local sustainable energy, and advocates on their winners’ behalf. For further information, including photos, films, and case studies on past winners, go to www.ashden.org. The Ashden Patron is HRH The Prince of Wales.
  2. The UN has designated 2012 as the International Year for Sustainable Energy for All. In response, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has launched a new global initiative – Sustainable Energy for All which aims to achieve three major objectives by 2030: ensuring universal access to modern energy services; doubling the rate of improvement in energy efficiency; and doubling the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix. www.sustainableenergyforall.org 
  3. The Ashden Awards ceremony will be held on 30 May at the Royal Geographical Society in London. To report/film the event please contact Carla Jones (details as above).
  4. The Ashden Awards annual conference will take place at the Royal Geographical Society on 29 May, where some of the international and UK finalists will speak about their work, along with panel debate and discussions. Journalists are welcome to attend and can book in advance for one-on-one interviews. Contact carla.jones@ashdenawards.org.
  5. To read live comment on the Awards Ceremony and conference and for other news go to Twitter: http://twitter.com/ashdenawards, Facebook: http://bit.ly/9GKbIM, Blog: www.ashden.org/blog/latest