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Gorbachev presents sustainable energy awards

8 Mar 2002 – The winners in a competition for sustainable energy solutions received their awards from former Soviet Union president Mikhail Gorbachev at a ceremony held in Linz, Austria on Wednesday.

Some 1300 sustainable projects from 98 countries worldwide competed for the Energy Globe Award 2002. Awards were made for the most outstanding projects in five categories (companies, transport & communities, building & housing, private & public initiatives and water globe).

Among the winning projects were major wind power plants in Spain covering 100 per cent of the electricity demand, a leading PV project implemented by the American Episcopal Church, a Polish environmental programme and a comprehensive South African water supply and sanitation initiative.

The Energy Globe Award and the World Sustainable Energy Day are organized by O.O. Energiesparverband, the energy agency of Upper Austria which is a focal point for energy information and one of Europe’s largest energy advice providers.

First Prize in the companies category went to a “Wind power equivalent to a nuclear power station.” In three years wind energy equivalent to a nuclear power station – this is the ambitious goal of the Spanish region Castilla-La Mancha. This rural region is sparsely populated (1 726 000 inhabitants, density: 22 people/km_) and has no previous record of renewable energy. The project is being implemented in two of its provinces, Albecete and Cuenza. By the end of 2002, 31 wind power plants will be built there, they will produce 1173 MW and cover more than 100 per cent of the electricity demand of the two counties.

The total investment of over €913m has led to the development of a new industry and production sector that has already created around 1600 jobs. Due to the project a wind turbine assembly plant has been opened in Toledo, and a blade manufacturing factory has been built in Albacete, and another firm producing blade roots has been set up in Cuenza. In total, the programme has already generated an income of more than €185m for companies in the region. The financial backing for the project comes form 53 banks from 10 countries it the form of the biggest loan ever granted in the sector of renewable energy.

The Transport & Communities section was won by “Episcopal Power” – The Regeneration Project/Episcopal Power & Light, USA

The Regeneration project, implemented by “Episcopal Power and Light”, brings clean energy to American churches and has already reached 2.5 million households only in California. A growing number of America’s churches are keeping the lights on with wind and solar power, generated without pollution or global warming emissions.

Responding to climate change, the 1997 General Convention of the Episcopal Church USA passed a resolution calling on members to practice energy efficiency and to use renewable energy. Within year nearly 60 religious groups in California had switched to green power.

To date, 60 Churches get their electricity from 100% renewable energy sources, and 50 Churches have installed solar panels on their roofs. Now it is up to the households to follow the leading example of the Churches: the “Interfaith Power and Light Programme”, started in December 2001, aims at replacing light bulbs in 400,000 households.

The Building & Housing award went to “Zero energy buildings” – Peabody Trust/BP Solar, UK

Beddington Zero Energy Housing – “BedZED” – is a housing development with a difference: this solar urban village is the most environmentally friendly development for housing and work in Great Britain. The Peabody Trust together with BP Solar built 82 properties for rent and sale plus 16,000 square metres of workspace and sports facility in the South of London.

More than 1,100 photovoltaic modules have been integrated in the facade of the building and are now generating “green electricity”. Of course the homes are super-insulated and their energy demand is expected to be only about 25% of the amount of a normal building of the same size. The site has also got a CHP-plant that generates clean heat and power. And last but not least, home residents can buy electric cars at subsidized prices.

The category Private & Public Initiatives was won by “Swapping debts”, EcoFund, Polen

The Polish debt-for-environmental-protection swap is a leading initiative that allocates part of the Polish debt to sustainable energy projects. And this is how it works: the USA, France, Italy, Sweden, Switzerland and Norway decided to assign a certain proportion of the Polish debt to ecologically sound energy projects implemented in Poland.

The “EcoFund” manages the programme, which has been providing financial support to environmental protection projects for 10 years. The EcoFund gives grants from 10 to 50 % of the total project costs therefore enabling the rapid implementation of initiatives.

So far, more than 150 energy projects have been realized including some 80 energy efficiency projects and 72 renewable energy projects. In total, 65 million Euro have been granted by the EcoFund to leading projects like the largest Polish wind farm, the modernization of district heating plants or the closing down of old coal fired plants.

The Water Globe was won by “Water for People” – South African Department of Water Affairs & Forestry, South Africa

Since 1994, the South African Department of Water Affairs and Forestry has been running a comprehensive programme to eliminate the backlog in the provision of water and sanitation to the population. Especially in rural areas people often did not have access to the quality of life and health benefits resulting from the provision of water and sanitation.

The measures implemented within the framework of the initiative range from policy measures to the support granted to water service institutions and municipalities in carrying out water service programmes and capacity building initiatives. Further steps included a capital infrastructure plan and a programme ensuring free access to basic water for all South African people.

Since its inception in 1994, the programme has achieved promising results and has very much contributed to an increased living standard. And these are the impressive programme results: So far, 7 million people have been provided with clean water, 332 projects have been completed and 400 000 jobs created.