The Gothenburg Award for Sustainable Development is appointed in collaboration with the City of Gothenburg, Region Västra Götaland and 11 companies. The aim is to encourage continued improvement and acknowledge strategic work in sustainable development, both nationally and internationally. The prize is awarded for the 16th time and the reward is 1 million SEK.
Theme for the 2015 Gothenburg for Sustainable Development
The Energy Transition – Solar Energy and Energy Efficiency
The world stands on the threshold of a unique and historic shift. In the coming decades we need to reorientate society to be radically more energy efficient than it is today. At the same time the world’s supply of renewable energy needs to increase since only this, in combination with energy efficiency, can secure the energy supply. The emerging energy system must, moreover, include initiatives and measures that enable the continued progress of developing countries, while we at the same time manage to meet the climate challenge. This can be achieved by innovations which adapt societies to climate changes, improve living conditions and do not give rise to harmful emission levels.
Opportunities also arise when the current dependence on fossil fuels and the present energy system, centered on large power stations, are challenged more and more by a decentralized system in which the consumer can also be a producer.
In order to highlight what is necessary and possible, the jury has identified two key areas: solar energy and energy efficiency. We need new innovations and systems in order to release the potential existing within both of these areas. The jury has therefore decided to let the theme for the Gothenburg Award for sustainable development 2015 be: ”The energy transition – solar energy and energy efficiency”.
This year’s prize in the area of solar energy is awarded to Jeremy Leggett and this year’s prize in the field of energy efficiency is awarded to Peter Hennicke and Beate Weber-Schuerholz.
Jeremy Leggett, English businessman and opinion-former has, through his long and devoted involvement in solar energy, stimulated both debate and global influence for a sustainable energy development. Jeremy Leggett is the founding director of Solarcentury. Solarcentury was one of the first companies offering solar cells to the market and, thanks to Jeremy Leggett’s entrepreneurship and endurance, is today Great Britain’s largest, privately owned solar cell company. Among other things, the company handles installations for IKEA within their pilot project to sell solar cell packages. Solarcentury also donates part of its profit to Solar Aid, an organization founded by Jeremy Leggett in 2006 with the purpose of providing access to solar-driven lamps in countries such as Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia and Senegal. Solar Aid is today the world’s largest distributor of solar-driven lamps. Jeremy Leggett is a successful businessman working tirelessly for renewable energy/solar energy. His commitment is broad, ranging from writing books, driving campaigns to having the position as chairman in Carbon Tracker (a financial think tank analysing climate risk in capital markets).
At the same time as we need to utilize the sun’s energy, it is a necessity that we make the present energy system more efficient. There is great potential for energy efficiency, where we have only yet seen the beginning. Energy efficiency is a systematic work requiring acceptance, long-term thinking and co-operation. According to the leading organization for energy efficiency (ACEEE), the world’s leading country in the field is Germany. Through political leadership, research and business, Germany has achieved great results and as examples of Germany’s progress, Peter Hennicke and Beate Weber-Schuerholz have been selected as award winners.
Peter Hennicke has been called Germany’s ”bishop” within energy efficiency and has been a pioneer of the energy transition, die Energiwende. Already in 1985, Peter Hennicke wrote the book “Die Energiewende ist möglich”. Peter Hennicke’s research and participation in governmental expert groups has greatly influenced the country’s development. He has clarified to decision makers at various levels that it requires a combination of renewable energy and energy efficiency for an energy transition to take place. Even more, Peter Hennicke has managed to pinpoint and voice the several benefits to the society that may follow from such a transition. By managing to transfer these insights to an important audience of decision-makers Peter Hennicke has inspired those who have the power to take the important steps towards sustainability. Peter Hennicke has held posts such as head of the leading Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy, has worked for the UN and is today a member of the Club of Rome.
Beate Weber-Schuerholz was elected mayor of the town of Heidelberg in 1990 where she, over the course of two election periods (1990-1998), laid the foundation for the leading position within energy efficiency which Heidelberg holds today among the cities of the world. Through co-operation with local business, leadership of the local authority’s energy supply company, financing of energy efficient buildings and heavy investments within public transport, Heidelberg reduced its CO2 emissions by 30 percent over the period 1993 to 2007. Today, Heidelberg is a role model within energy efficiency, it having, for example, the world’s largest passive house areas. During the course of her term of office, Beate Weber-Schuerholz demonstrated strong leadership and an ability to organize and inspire companies, local officials and citizens. Moreover, Beate Weber-Schuerholz emphasized the economic and environmental benefit of energy efficiency. Beate Weber-Schuerholz’s commitment extended beyond the city limits through regional initiatives and to work within the EU.