Want $4m? Come up with the next big idea in energy

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We need to fix energy. That much is obvious. Fossil fuels are slowly choking the planet, nuclear is falling out of favour and although the alternatives are getting more efficient, the scope for improvement is massive.

One way to get people innovating is to give them an incentive. About US$4-million sounds good.

The Zayed Future Energy Prize is offering exactly that amount of money for companies, individuals, organisations and high schools that think they can change energy for the better.

Held each year, the prize claims that it reflects “innovation, impact, long-term vision and leadership in the fields of renewable energy and sustainability”.

This year, organisers are expecting a strong showing from Africa.

“We have seen commendable innovations from the African continent in the past five years and we want to inspire more energy innovators from all African countries who can create solutions that meet the energy challenges of our time,” says Dr Nawal Al-Hosany, Director of the Zayed Future Energy Prize.

The scope of the Zayed Future Energy Prize has been broadened to include five distinct categories: Large Corporations, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), Lifetime Achievement, and the newly instituted Global High School Prize.

“The Zayed Future Energy Prize is fast becoming the pre-eminent platform for innovators from around the world; nurturing and developing young minds at an early age and encouraging them to innovate lies at the heart of our global drive,” Al-Hosnay added.

The US$500 000 Global High School Prize will be split into five parts with winning schools in Africa, the Americas, Asia, Oceania and Europe being awarded up to US$100,000 each.

High Schools from around the world are requested to submit a business case for how they plan on utilising the prize for the purpose of raising awareness on the importance of sustainability and improving the school’s environmental footprint. Projects submitted must be based on one or more of the three pillars of the UN Sustainable Energy for All Initiative which includes Energy Access, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

Winners are chosen according to a stringent four-stage selection process. The first stage involves an independent research and analysis checking out each application. During the second stage, a review committee evaluates each candidate and shortlists entries in each award category. In the third stage, a selection committee comprising leading experts in the field of renewable energy and sustainability evaluates the shortlisted entries. Submissions that have scored the highest make it to the fourth and final round, where an elite jury made up of various heads of state, leading academics, energy experts and world-renowned personalities with a keen interest in sustainability, reviews and selects the winners and runners-up in each award category.

Information and entry process can be accessed on the organisation’s site before entries close on 16 July.

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