THREE British SMEs were among the winners of the 2017 Ashden Awards, which aim to highlight “the best in sustainable energy”.
Established by philanthropist Sarah Butler-Sloss in 2001 they aim to showcase the potential of winners and longlisted projects’. Organiser the Ashden Trust says it uses rigorous criteria to judge winners before continuing to work with them to help them scale up and share learning.
International Award for Energy and Water
Norfolk’s Futurepump manufactures and sells a low-cost, portable solar irrigation pump to smallholder farmers in Kenya – where most of its operation is based – and 28 other countries across Asia and Africa. Judges say it helps farmers irrigate more land, increasing productivity and income by growing crops year-round, and to move away from costly, polluting fuels. The $650 pumps can be paid for over two years and, on average, return the investment within a similar period.
UK Award for Smart Energy
Smarter Grid Solutions, of Glasgow, developed smart tech that measures current and voltage on the power network, automatically instructing generators to reduce power or shut down when constraints are in danger of being breached. This mechanism has enabled 259MW of new renewable energy generation to be connected to the grid at times of spare capacity. Ashden says this removed the need for costly upgrades to transmission lines, transformers and substations for the infrequent occasions when the network could not cope.
UK Award for Energy Innovation
London’s Switchee developed a smart thermostat to help tenants without WiFi or mobile phone apps optimise their heating, save money and CO2. Light, air pressure and motion sensors detect when people are home and adjust a household’s heating accordingly, cutting energy use by up to 15%. Temperature and humidity sensors also help social landlords monitor housing stock by identifying which homes are at risk of mould or require an upgrade to insulation, says Ashden.