When innovation and progress go hand in hand
The EDF Pulse international jury selected three winning projects. In the “Science and electricity” category, Professor Renaud Bouchet won the award for “Siel”, a research project to design an electric car battery. The presentation video explained the process, which solves a number of problems posed by current batteries: the result is lighter, cheaper, more energy efficient and less susceptible to battery fire. It lets us envisage much more efficient electric cars in future. According to Bouchet, the ultimate aim of his work is as much social as it is environmental: “Electric vehicles have to be democratic and cheap if they are to let our cities breathe.”
The prize-giving ended with the announcement of the two joint winners in the “Access to electricity” category. Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality, represented by Mpilo Mbambisa, is lighting South Africa’s townships with LEDs to make the streets safer and save electricity. The other project, led by the Indian organization Teri and represented by Sunhil Dhingra, is a biomass gasifier that optimizes use of organic waste, counters the power cuts that are frequent in India, and allows local people to keep working and maintain a steady income. “Electricity is synonymous with life on earth. Without it, life is extremely hard,” noted Henri Proglio as he congratulated the two winners. Visibly delighted to receive the honour, the two men warmly thanked all members of the jury. Sunhil Dhingra pointed out the importance of access to electricity, which is a major challenge to supporting population development. Mpilo Mbambisa stressed: “This award could not have come at a better time for us, as our country celebrates 20 years of democracy.”
The EDF Pulse awards implicitly address some of the biggest challenges of our time: the improvement of everyday life; electricity storage, which is a key issue for the development of intermittent renewable energy; and innovation in democratized access to electricity, which is an essential driver of development. Each in their own way, the projects led by the entrepreneurs who gathered around Henri Proglio for a “family” photo demonstrate that innovation and progress can go hand in hand. And the delight on the faces of these purveyors of progress on stage promises that the second edition of the awards will be just as inspiring.