The global Zayed Future Energy Prize for renewable energy and sustainability, worth US$4 million (AU$5.7m), has announced its winners for 2016.

The prize is initiated by the United Arab Emirates, and managed by the government-owned clean energy company Masdar.

For 2016 there were 48 finalists, which were reduced to 10 finalists competing in three categories: large corporation, SME and non-profit organisation. The large corporation receives no money with its prize, though the SME and non-profit organisation receive US$1.5m (AU$2.1m). Additional prizes of US$100,000 are awarded to five schools across Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceania. A lifetime achievement award recipient also receives US$500,000.

The large corporation price went to BYD Company, a rechargeable battery supplier and new energy vehicle manufacturer who have developed a safer and more environmentally friendly battery technology that is completely recyclable.

The SME prize went to Off Grid Electric, an off-grid electric company supplying transformative energy directly to households that have never had access to reliable electricity.

The non-profit organisation prize went to Kopernik, an organisation delivering sustainable energy technologies to remote communities to reduce poverty, and which also helps manufacturers to develop affordable, effective energy solutions for the poor.

The Oceania school to take out the Global High Schools category was Cashmere High School in Christchurch, New Zealand, which will use the US$100,000 prize to install a 25-kilowatt photovoltaic system, a 2kW wind turbine and piezoelectric floor tiles that students can walk and jump on to generate electricity.

Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland, the former prime minister of Norway who established and chaired the Brundtland Commission, which formed the political concept of “sustainable development”, was the winner of the lifetime achievement award.

The awards were presented by the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan. United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, heads of state and dignitaries from around the world attended the awards ceremony, the largest gathering on sustainability in the Middle East.

“We are now in the eighth cycle of the prize and each year its impact continues to grow,” UAE minister of state and director general of the Zayed Future Energy Prize Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber said,

“Today, the prize impacts over 150 million people across the globe, through improved access to water, energy and food. We are proud of what the Zayed Future Energy Prize has come to represent for the UAE in its ability to continue empowering communities around the world.”

Submissions and nominations for the 2017 Zayed Future Energy Prize are now open across the five categories.

To facilitate entries from Australia, New Zealand and the whole Oceania region, Masdar has appointed an Australian company, Business Outlook and Evaluation, as outreach partner to assist in the process.

Go here for online submissions or for more information.