An innovative new solar powered refrigeration unit developed by Greenpeace International and six other international organizations, won the Environmental Pioneer in Refrigeration award in the 2006 Cooling Industry Awards. The SolarChill Vaccine Cooler & Refrigerator Project will enable vaccines to be stored in areas around the world without an adequate electricity supply.

The SolarChill Project Partners include Greenpeace International, UNICEF, UNEP, World Health Organisation (WHO), GTZ Proklima, Programmes for Appropriate Technologies in Health (PATH) and the Danish Technological Institute. The project developed a versatile refrigeration technology that operates on solar energy; uses environmentally safe refrigerants; bypasses the use of lead batteries; and can also be plugged into the grid. Developed over the last six years, SolarChill has been field-tested in Senegal, Indonesia, and Cuba and once it receives WHO approval will be deployed across the world.

"The Solar Chill technology clearly demonstrates the huge, largely untapped resource of clean, renewable solar power that's out there. This innovation will improve the delivery of vaccine programmes in many regions of the world and save countless lives. We commend the 2006 Cooling awards for having recognised this clean, safe, lifesaving initiative," said Wolfgang Lohbeck of Greenpeace Germany.

Successful public health programmes rely on a supply of high-quality vaccines that need continuous cooling to remain effective. Many regions in the world with non-existent, inadequate or intermittent electricity supply cannot provide the required constant refrigeration, known as the 'cold chain', resulting in millions of dollars of spoiled vaccines each year, or in a total absence of vaccination programs. SolarChill is also applicable for emergency relief in natural or human made disaster zones.