It’s precisely this combination of factors that has made my involvement in the amazing Zayed Future Energy Prize (as a member of its Selection Committee from its inception) so utterly fascinating!

The Prize celebrates everything that is good and exciting and planet-enhancing about the alternative energy paradigm, and hands out different Awards (totalling $4m) to winners in the Non-Profit OrganisationSME and global high schools categories, as well as recognising large corporations and conferring an annual Lifetime Achievement award.

You can read all about this year’s winners on

But I can’t help but make a special comment here about this year’s NGO winner: Practical Action.

I feel as if I’ve lived alongside Practical Action for the best part of 40 years. As the Intermediate Technology Development Group, it was founded by Fritz Schumacher (together with a former good friend of mine, George McRobie) back in 1966. It was a pretty modest operation to begin with, but already intent on bringing access to renewable energy to some of the poorest communities in the world. Some of its most extraordinary pioneering work was in places like Nepal, bringing relatively untested technologies of that time, like micro-hydro, into remote rural areas.

But ITDG steadily prospered, extending its work into more and more countries, and widening its focus from small-scale renewable energy technologies to food and farming, and eventually to much broader rural and urban development. It acts as a think-tank, a practical delivery organisation, and an advisor to many organisations.

It changed its name to Practical Action in 2005, and celebrated its 50th anniversary last year. And it’s now working in many countries in Africa, Latin America and South Asia.

In other words, another great winner for the Prize – and it’s through amazing organisations like this that the Prize continues to extend its reach. In less than ten years, the contributions and actions of the Prize winners have enhanced more than 289 million lives, improving conditions for communities across the world, and facilitating partnerships and innovations that will capitalise on today’s clean energy revolution.

The winners’ diverse achievements range from displacing one billion tonnes of CO2 emissions, and generating one billion megawatt hours of renewable energy, unlocking clean energy access to around 25 million people across Africa and Asia.

Next year will be the tenth anniversary of the Zayed Future Energy Prize – expect even bigger and better things!