Abu Dhabi names four U.S. finalists for $2.2 million green energy prize

December 22, 2010

ENERGY-CITIESFor those fretting that the United States is losing its green tech edge to countries such as China, take heart: Abu Dhabi thinks America remains an innovative powerhouse.

Four of the six finalists for the $2.2 million Zayed Future Energy Prize are from the U.S. The prize, named for the founder of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, grants a seven-figure award for “outstanding work in renewable energy and sustainability.”

In recent years, Abu Dhabi has emerged as the alternative energy center of the Middle East. It is the site of Masdar City, the master-planned sustainable community under construction.

The prize committee chose the finalists from 391 entries that came from 69 nations. The six individuals and companies are something of a grab bag, ranging from alternative energy guru Amory B. Lovins of Colorado’s Rocky Mountain Institute to First Solar, the Tempe, Ariz., thin-film photovoltaic module manufacturer and power plant developer.

Another U.S.-based finalist is Terry Tamminen, a veteran environmentalist and former head of the California Environmental Protection Agency who currently runs Seventh Generation Advisors, a non-profit consultancy focused on sustainability.

The committee also selected E+Co, a New Jersey firm that makes investments in renewable energy projects in developing countries.

The non-U.S. finalist are Vestas, the Danish wind turbine giant, and Barefoot College in India. Among other endeavors, Barefoot College trains low-income women for work bringing solar electricity to rural villages.

According to the prize administrators, the only restriction placed on the award money is that it be used to “to further the ideas and ambitions within the winning submissions.”

“We are committed to inspire future energy innovators around the globe to ensure the development of green technologies to help preserve our natural environment,” Dr Sultan Al Jaber, the Zayed Future Energy Prize’s director general, said in a statement. “It is our ambition to make Abu Dhabi a global hub for sustainable energy leaders.”

The winner of the Zayed Future Energy Price will be revealed on Jan. 18 during the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi. The first-place winner received $1.5 million and the two runner-ups will each be awarded $350,000.

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