Australia’s Alternative Technology Association (ATA) has won a major international award for its work bringing solar-powered lighting to remote villages in East Timor.
The not-for-profit’s Village Lighting Scheme, which has been operating for more than a decade, was handed the United Nations Association of Australia’s World Environment Day Clean Energy Award at a ceremony on Monday night.
The program has seen the ATA install solar-powered lighting in more than 1500 homes, schools, community centres and hospitals without access to electricity in East Timor, as well as training and developing training programs for local solar technicians.
In the next round of installations from July to November this year, the ATA will oversee 700 solar-powered lighting units in the Timorese districts of Aileu, Baucau and Viqueque.
ATA chief Donna Luckman said the award was great recognition for the work of dozens of people in Australia and East Timor, many of them volunteers committed to improving lives with clean energy.
“Not only does solar benefit the environment, it literally changes people’s lives to have light at night with clean energy instead of relying on polluting kerosene lamps or candles. Women and children also feel safer with reliable light for security,” she said.
“Our vision is for renewable energy across developing countries like East Timor as well as in Australia.”
Kate Greenwood, the ATA’s international projects manager, paid tribute to the volunteers driving the Village Lighting Scheme.
“The international projects group started with a handful of people in Melbourne who saw a need. It has blossomed into a wonderful network of individuals who have made trips to East Timor, installed solar, trained people, developed specific solar units, and just generally donated an enormous amount of their time and energy,” Greenwood said.
“This award speaks volumes for their passion, commitment and work.”