SolarWorld AG this year honored Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and micro-finance pioneer Muhammad Yunus by presenting the 2010 SolarWorld Einstein Award to him. Professor Yunus received the award in recognition of his contributions to the nonprofit social business company "Grameen Shakti" that Professor Yunus founded in 1996, which since its inception has dedicated itself to providing energy to off-grid rural regions of Bangladesh.
With help from micro-loans, program recipients can obtain small off-grid solar power plants. This clean energy enables regional residents to work after dark, learn more in school and operate electric machines, radios and mobile phones. At the same time, it reduces climate and health hazards emanating from kerosene lamps. Thousands of women were trained in the installation and maintenance of these solar plants, providing them with reliable income. Due to savings on kerosene costs, solar plant owners can pay back the loans within two to three years. GS is pursuing the objective of installing 1 million solar power systems by the year 2015.The micro-loans have, among other things, made possible installations of more than 400,000 small solar power systems, securing energy supplies for people in rural regions of Bangladesh who live far from the national utility grid.
The SolarWorld Einstein Award 2010 will be held on the occasion of the 25th European Photovoltaic Conference in Valencia, Spain, on Sept. 6, 2010.
"Professor Yunus stands for radically new thinking in economics and banking. He has recognized the potential of the poorest of this world who manage to make a decent living on the basis of a small starting credit, a lot of creativity and the sun as the source of energy. This is more than exemplary," explains Dr. Ing. h. c. Frank Asbeck, Chairman and CEO of SolarWorld AG.
Professor Yunus will join a distinguished group of recipients of SolarWorld Einstein Award including Dr. Rupert Neudeck (founder of the so-called Green Helmets), Prof. Antonio Luque-Lopez (Spanish photovoltaic pioneer), Prof. Martin Green (developer of the most efficient mono-crystalline solar cell), Prof. Adolf Goetzberger (founder of the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems), Prof. Dr. Klaus Topfer (former German environment minister and former executive director of the United Nations Environment Program) and Dr. Hermann Scheer (one of the spiritual fathers of the German law on renewable energy sources).