The European Union's premier awards for groundbreaking sustainable energy projects will be given out for the eighth time at EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW), which takes place from 24-28 June. There is still time for innovative projects to be put forward for an award, but project promoters need to act quickly: the deadline for submissions is 8 March.
The awards are designed for projects that have gone beyond research and development. Projects should have been demonstrated in real conditions and should be able to show proven results, indicating that they can play a part in helping the EU meet its Europe 2020 strategic goal of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. Past winners have included Strawberry Tree, a public solar charger for mobile devices from Serbia, and Move Mile, which has developed a clean transportation system – an electric monorail – for moving patients around hospitals.
Projects should deal with renewable energy, energy efficiency or/and clean mobility. The awards are open to the private and public sectors. The main promoter of a nominated project must be European, defined for the purposes of the 2013 awards as coming from the EU, or from Croatia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, or the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
Awards in a range of categories await the best projects. Sustainable Energy Europe (SEE) Awards are given in the categories of awareness raising projects (Communicating), educational programmes (Learning), buildings (Living), energy savings (Consuming) and clean mobility schemes (Travelling). In addition, a ManagEnergy Local Energy Action Award is designed to reward local or regional authorities that effectively promote renewable energy, energy efficiency and clean transport.
Awards Competition Coordinator David Crous from the EUSEW Secretariat, says that the awards amount to a “map of the best in class ongoing eco-innovative solutions in the field of sustainable energy in Europe”. The scheme has attracted about 250 projects per year since it was inaugurated in 2006.
The benefits for nominated and winning projects are recognition, promotion and media exposure. “It's a real good opportunity to gain visibility and to increase potential financial support from new investors,” Crous says.
For example, the winner in the Communicating category in 2012 was EnergizAIR, a project led by Belgium's Association pour la Promotion des Energies Renouvelables. EnergizAIR has established a “renewable energy weather forecast” that shows, in simple terms, the extent to which a country's renewable energy generation capacity can meet its needs. The indicators have been incorporated into weather forecasts seen by 4 million people in Belgium, France, Italy, Portugal and Slovenia, and help to make wind and solar energy “real” for viewers, building confidence in the switch to low-carbon energy.
According to EnergizAIR coordinator Nathalie Gilly, in a video encouraging projects to enter the 2013 awards, participation was “definitely worth it”. From the SEE Awards, EnergizAIR received “great visibility, promotion and media coverage... and we also got partners very easily” to extend the project, she said.