They are the 10 best companies in the world harnessing alternative energies. This year’s winners of the Ashden Awards for Sustainable Energy feature companies from UK, India, Pakistan and Africa.

By bringing green energy in practice and helping many adopt sustainable energy solutions, these companies were honored at the world’s most prestigious green energy awards in London on June 16, 2011.

Four international winners and a Gold Award winner were awarded £120,000 prize money to be spent on expanding their pioneering work in benefitting communities across the globe and saving thousands of tonnes of CO2 through the innovative use of clean energy technologies. Runners-up were awarded £6,000 in cash prizes.

The Ashden Awards recognize outstanding and innovative clean energy schemes across the developing world and in the UK that help combat climate change and meet the energy needs of the poor.

“From the production of biomass pellets from crop waste to replace coal in India to the provision of a range of solar-powered products to off-grid communities in Africa, this year’s winners prove that it is possible to meet the energy needs of the poor in a way that radically improves lives, drives economic growth, cuts CO2 emissions and saves trees,” the London-based Ashden Awards said in a statement.

Below are the companies that won the “clean energy” awards for 2011:

1. Toyola Energy Ltd., Ghana, Africa

The African company, the winner of the coveted Gold Award (£40,000), was selected for its success in making over 150,000 efficient charcoal stoves accessible to low-income families.

A workers makes the body of a Toyola stove. Users put the savings made on charcoal into the money boxes provided by Toyola to pay back their loans. PHOTO: Ashden Awards

2. Abellon CleanEnergy Ltd, Gujarat, India

The company won £20,000 for producing biomass pellets from crop waste to fuel Gujarat’s industries and for giving farmers a market for their waste products.

Workers Sift cumin to separate seeds from the waste which will be used to make biomass pellets, Gujarat. PHOTO: Ashden Awards

3. The Aga Khan Planning and Building Service (AKPBS), Pakistan

Another winner of prize money £20,000, the Pakistani company was selected for helping families in remote mountain villages save energy and enjoy warmer and more comfortable homes by installing a range of energy-efficient products.

Efficient stoves manufactured by AKPBS cook, heat water and warm homes in Northern Pakistan. PHOTO: Ashden Awards

4. Husk Power Systems, Bihar, India

Another Indian company, the Husk Power Systems, won the prize money worth £20,000 for connecting remote villages in Bihar to a clean, reliable and affordable electricity supply, which provides better light, harnesses a widespread waste product – rice husks – and costs just Rs 100 per connection.

A worker fills a gasifier plant with rice husk, Tamkuha, Bihar. Husk Power Systems use gasifier technology to produce electricity from rice husk. PHOTO: Ashden Awards

5. ToughStuff International, Africa and UK

The company was awarded with £20,000 prize money to support its work in manufacturing and marketing of a range of low-cost and robust solar products to off-grid communities mainly in Kenya and Madagascar.

ToughStuff’s cheap, adaptable solar kits are sold by retailers both large and small, and even by rural entrepreneurs enabling them to earn an income while bringing power to those who need it most. PHOTO: Ashden Awards

6. Radian, Eastleigh, Hampshire

One of the pioneers of low carbon energy in the UK, Radian, a housing association, received £20,000 to promote its outstanding work of retrofitting hard-to-treat homes and building eco homes that far exceed the current minimum standards for energy efficiency; consequently nearly 44,000 residents are enjoying the benefits of lower fuel bills and cozier homes.

Retro-fitted homes, where CO2 emissions have fallen by up to 80%. PHOTO: Ashden Awards

7. Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT), Powys, Wales

This world-leading centre for practical learning on sustainable energy is training thousands of people a year in renewable energy technologies, green building and low carbon living to spread the skills and know-how the UK needs to move towards a low carbon economy. It was awarded £10,000.

8. Midlands Wood Fuel Ltd, Shrewsbury

The company received £10,000 prize money to help it sustain its outstanding endeavor in expanding the use of wood fuel in the Midlands and beyond. It has created rigorous quality control and tracking systems to ensure the wood supply is high quality and reliable, thereby offering a viable heating alternative to gas or oil.

Feeding logs into the chipper to produce fuel. PHOTO: Ashden Awards

9. Severn Wye Energy Agency (SWEA), Gloucestershire

This agency runs an innovative program in secondary schools called ‘Young Energy People’ (YEP!) that is building young people’s vocational skills, and inspiring them to become dedicated energy-savers through training and practical experience in energy management. Ashden Awards rewarded the company with £10,000.

A Young Energy People! student reads the meters to track monthly energy usage. PHOTO: Ashden Awards

10. Transition Together, Transition Town Totnes, Devon

Transition Town Totnes encourages groups of neighbors in the town to embark on a low-carbon path together, through actions that save money and carbon, under its community scheme Transition Together. The company received prize money worth £10,000.

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