Zayed Future Energy Prize: honours to Sunna Design and Shuji Nakamura

The winners of the 10th Zayed Future Energy Prize at an awards ceremony during Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week in January. Nine awards were presented in five categories: Lifetime Achievement, Large Corporation, Small and Medium Enterprise, Non-Profit Organisation and Global High Schools.

The winner in the Small and Medium Enterprise category, Sunna Design of France, was honoured for its work in solar-powered street lighting that is particularly adapted to emerging-market environments. It has improved security, quality of life and socio-economic opportunities in isolated villages and refugee camps in developing countries; the company has installed about 10,000 lamps in 40 countries working with local partners across Africa, parts of the Middle East and India.

Sunna Design lamps use a nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) battery chemistry that is resilient to low and high temperatures and has a 10-year lifetime, making it well-suited to remote places with extreme climates. It has a wide variety of models, including a lamp that can provide electricity locally to households for LED lighting and phone charging; in this way, the solar street light both illuminates a public area and brings electricity to those without. The system becomes a pay-as-you-go NanoGrid, where households can prepay for the energy they use via mobile money applications.

Sunna Design’s solar street lights also have integrated energy management technology, which optimises the energy consumption and controls the integrated NiMH battery efficiently so that the solar power lasts throughout the night without interruption. Its smart solar lamps can also collect data about the surrounding environment and transmit information about the performance of the lamp back to a central control platform.

Shuji Nakamura, professor of materials, and electrical and computer engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara, received the Prize’s Lifetime Achievement Award for pioneering the development of white LED lights, an innovation that will reduce electricity consumption in the US by an estimated 348TWh by 2027, saving more than $30bn.



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